Doty Hale, a longtime Claremonter, died August 27, 2012 at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. She was 73.
Ms. Hale was born on October 16, 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Edward and Vera Doherty. When she was 3, the family moved to Buford, Georgia, where she was raised.
In a 1987 Los Angeles Times profile highlighting her work at Claremont Graduate School’s George C. Stone Children’s Book Center, Ms. Hale talked about growing up in a southern town in the ‘50s.
Life there revolved around churches, and hers was not a big churchgoing family. Athletics and music were also central local preoccupations, “And I wasn’t much good at those, either,” Ms. Hale said.
One day, when Ms. Hale was 6, she stumbled on another outlet. She was poring over a Bible alphabet book on the back porch of her house on Mareno Street when she realized with a thrill of “sheer excitement” that she could make sense of the words. In between Saturday night football and basketball games and summer days spent hanging around at the town pool, she developed into a serious reader.
After graduating as valedictorian from Buford High School in 1956, Ms. Hale enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta, some 35 miles southwest of her hometown. It was there that she fell in love with Bill Hale who, as she shared in the Times profile, “sat behind me in Bible class and kept murmuring blasphemous things.”
In 1960, the year before graduating from Emory, Ms. Hale didn’t know what she wanted to do next, but she was adamant about what she didn’t want to do. She “didn’t want to be married, didn’t want to work and didn’t want to go to grad school.” Within 6 months of graduation, she had embarked on all 3 adventures.
Having married Mr. Hale, she worked as a recorder for a psychiatrist’s group therapy sessions while pursing a PhD in English at Emory, where her husband was a medical student.
After he graduated in 1963, the Hales spent the next 4 years leading a peripatetic lifestyle, following Dr. Hale’s internships and residency assignments to Salt Lake City, Tulare, Baltimore, Downey and Pasadena.
“I was young enough to enjoy that kind of life,” Ms. Hale told the Times, adding that she spent the time “having babies and getting ready to move again.”
In 1969, Ms. Hale completed her dissertation on British novelist Arnold Bennett and the Hales moved to Claremont with their daughters Celia and Eileen and son Ned in tow. She was to live in the same house on Seventh Street for the next 42 years.
Dr. Hale began practicing orthopedic surgery in Pomona while Ms. Hale taught as an English professor at Cal State Los Angeles and as a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University.
Theirs was an exceptionally academic household, Ms. Hale’s daughter Celia shared. Sometimes her mother would challenge her father to a vocabulary game, with each trying to one-up the other’s knowledge of the English language.
On one occasion, she recalls her mother throwing down the gauntlet with a word she had gleaned from a mystery novel—one she was certain Dr. Hale had never heard: “Defenestrating!” The word, incidentally, means throwing a person or thing out of a window.
Ms. Hale was chagrined when her husband used his grasp of Latin and Greek to decode the word. Almost. “De-windowing!” he answered. “I’ll give you half a point,” Ms. Hale reluctantly conceded.
Ms. Hale was not only bookish. She was also a keen traveler, heading to Europe at least a dozen times and trekking through the Middle East, Russia, the far east, Africa, Australia and South America. She prided herself on having seen firsthand exotic locales like Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands, and on having been to every continent except Antarctica. She had a special affection for the city of London.
Though she was a busy working mother, Ms. Hale also found time to engage in local politics, participating in the League of Women Voters, championing women’s rights and lending her support to the mayoral campaign of Judy Wright.
She also found time to read prolifically, and passed on her love of books to her children. “We’re all big readers. There were books everywhere while we were growing up,” her son Ned said.
More books were added to the equation when, in 1987, the position of director for the Stone Library at CGU opened up. Malcolm Douglass, then chairman of the Stone Library Committee and a professor of education at CGU, immediately thought of his book-loving colleague.
Ms. Hale, who had separated from her husband 3 years prior, took the job, welcoming the opportunity to immerse herself in the world of kids books and children’s literacy. She continued to teach and direct the Stone Library until her retirement in the mid-‘90s. She served as a mentor for many students and helped edit many academic papers, particularly those taking children’s literature as their subject.
“She so loved language and teaching and learning,” her daughter Celia recalled. “She often said that she felt in some ways teaching was an unequal relationship. She felt she got more from the students than she ever gave to them.”
In her final years, Ms. Hale faced some significant health struggles. Nonetheless, she continued to read passionately, particularly her beloved mysteries, and remained a lively conversationalist.
“My mother was always full of life,” her daughter Celia said. “My sister and I realized you could always find her. You just had to wait a moment, and you would hear her laughing.”
With her lifelong vitality in mind, her children decided not to hold a funeral service, instead planning a celebration in October near what would have been her 74th birthday.
Ms. Hale is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Celia and Frits Paerels and Eileen Hale and Nick Morosoff; by her son and daughter-in-law, Ned and Tierney Hale, and by 7 grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, October 6 from 10 a.m. to noon at her home at 248 W. 7th St. in Claremont. Anyone who wishes to attend is welcome.