Dorothy Reddy started her education career in a one-room schoolhouse.
Her life’s journey brought her to every corner of the globe, setting foot on all seven continents and traveling at supersonic speed to get there.
Reddy cultivated a passion for teaching children and learning the cultures of faraway places during her 96 years. The Janesville resident died Thursday at Edgerton Care Center.
“She was very outgoing, very honest. She loved people,” said her son Dan. “She taught school for 44 years. She just loved kids of any age. She loved her traveling. She just really enjoyed life.”
Despite her extensive travels, Reddy never strayed far from her southern Wisconsin roots. Born in Brooklyn, Wisconsin, she attended Evansville High School and continued her education at Green County Normal Teacher’s College and UW-Whitewater, according to the obituary she wrote before she died.
Her first class comprised nine students in a one-room schoolhouse somewhere west of Janesville. Her son couldn’t remember the exact location.
What he does remember are the stories of his mom hauling firewood into the classroom to fuel a wood stove. She transported buckets of water from a nearby windmill to keep her students hydrated, Dan said.
Most of her teaching career was in the Milton School District.
Gazette Digital Content Coordinator Dave von Falkenstein had Reddy as a second-grader at Consolidated Elementary School. He remembers her as a teacher who could make her students learn without them realizing it.
She shared stories of her time in the one-room schoolhouse. To von Falkenstein, those days seemed rudimentary and strict, even if Reddy was anything but.
“She was the kind of teacher where even as a second-grader you had respect for her. She treated you as more than just a student,” von Falkenstein said. “She was just the kind of teacher where things she taught you really stick with you.”
Once her full-time teaching career ended—she continued to volunteer at Consolidated for years after retirement—she decided to devote her time to traveling.
Her desire to see the world began at age 11 when her aunt took her to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. She spent a summer studying at the University of Oslo in Norway, but it wasn’t until retirement that traveling became a top priority, Dan said.
She crossed off the seven continents one by one, finally reaching Antarctica in 1999. She visited remote islands such as Tahiti, Guam and Galapagos.
If the unusual travel destinations weren’t enough evidence, adventure beyond typical tourist sightseeing consumed Reddy’s trips.
She once visited Churchill, Manitoba—the Polar Bear Capital of the World—to watch polar bears migrate through the town to Hudson Bay.
In her obituary, Reddy said she considered a 21-day jaunt aboard the French Concorde—a supersonic jet that moved at twice the speed of sound—to be her most exciting trip. The global tour stopped in Australia, India, China, Egypt and France.
“She went there to learn the culture. She went there to see how people lived,” Dan said. “It was very educational for her to see how people lived in different countries and different continents. She taught geography and history in school, so it was very rewarding for her to see those different places.”