My mother, Dorothy Chloe Williams was born in the King's Daughters Hospital of Perry, Dallas County, Iowa on April 3, 1915, the only child of Arthur and Minnie (Hiney) Williams. When she was two years old, the family moved to Colorado where they homesteaded on the Great Divide before settling in the town of Craig in the remote northwest corner of the State. [See Grandparents' Page for a picture of the homestead.] She graduated from Craig High School May 26, 1933. She attended Brigham Young University in Utah for one year until a bout with Scarlet Fever forced her to quit.
From 1936 to early 1941, Mom worked as a Stenographer at the Work Projects Administration in Grand Junction, Colorado. For a brief time thereafter, she was the Chief Clerk for the National Youth Administration in Denver. For the rest of 1941 through May, 1942 she was the Senior Stenographer with the National Youth Administration in Denver, and then with the U.S. involvement in World War II, a Clerk for the Board of Economic Warfare in Washington, D.C.
When the United States entered World War II, Congress enacted a law allowing women to serve in the military for the first time. Only 400,000 women signed on - society still thought women belonged at home and regarded most of the women who joined the services as "abnormal." But from 1943 through the end of WWII, Mom served in the Marine Corps Reserves as a Corporal, and worked as an air control tower operator at Bogue's Field and Cherry Point, North Carolina.
After the war, she joined the first organization created by the United Nations called United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, or UNRRA, whose specific purpose was to help the war-torn countries and displaced persons. She was stationed in Shanghai, China where she met my father, James Behling, and where they were married on August 1, 1948. This was absolutely the best time in my mother's life, and her joy and enthusiasm of this experience are reflected in her Letters From China which she wrote to my grandparents over a period of 3 years, now in my possession.
Mom loved traveling, which was a good thing, as we moved approximately every two years while my brother, Tom and I were growing up. After I was born in Arizona, we moved to Illinois where Tom was born, then on to New York, Mexico, New Mexico, Venezuela and Peru.
Mom did not work outside of the home while I was growing up, but in the 1970's she returned to the work force as an administrative assistant for the Hoover Company where she remained until she retired in 1980. She was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood and very active in her several bridge clubs.
Mom also was enthusiastic about jigsaw puzzles and it become a contest every Christmas to see who could get her the most difficult one or the one with the most pieces. Additionally she enjoyed stamp-collecting, reading, playing bridge, and collecting spoons. Christmas was her favorite holiday and she was responsible for many of my traditions my family now associates with Christmas.
I am only sorry that Mom did not live long enough to see me uncover her ancestors from early New England and beyond. She died in 1990 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. However, I have the feeling that she is sitting up there in "Ancestor Heaven" communing with all of them anyway, and is responsible for that little inexplicable nudge I get every so often that directs me to search in just the right places.
I miss you, Mom, and these pages are for you.
I'd be happy to exchange family information.
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