Dorothy Ruth Cutler
November 5, 1917 – March 19, 2013
Dorothy Ruth Cutler was born to Asa Bryant and Ruth Hyndman Cutler in Hood River, Oregon on November 5, 1917. She was later joined by siblings Robert, Mary Jane (Achor), Helen “Louise” (Baxter), and Barbara Ann (Clark). Dorothy graduated from Franklin High School in Portland, Oregon in 1936 and earned a B.A. from Willamette University in 1940, a B.A. in Librarianship from the University of Washington in 1941, and an M.S. in Library Science in 1952 from the University of Illinois. She had a distinguished career beginning at the public Library in Salem, OR, in 1941, and then served in the army special services as librarian for American servicemen in Hawaii and Guam during World War II. She worked at California Contra Costa County Library from 1946 - 1951 then began her career at the Washington State Library in Olympia in 1952. She was a key developer of the library system for the state of Washington Her work included membership on the Washington State Legislature Joint Committee on Education, as well as the Subcommittee on Educational TV and Libraries. She was a member of committees that produced the “Standards for Library Functions at the State Level” in 1970, and the 1969 Nelson Study “Public Library Systems in the U.S.”
Dorothy traveled the world, exploring other cultures, bringing home countless treasures for her family and friends to enjoy vicariously. She loved gourmet cooking, supporting the arts, attending symphony, theatre, ballet and opera in Seattle. She was a long-term member of The United Churches of Olympia, finding special enjoyment worshipping through their hymns and music. In 1999 she moved to Panorama City in Lacey, WA where she lived independently until a fall in January, 2013. Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents and all her younger siblings. She is deeply missed by many nieces, nephews, grandnieces & nephews and friends.
Dorothy R. Cutler was one of the powerhouses of the Washington State Library during the 1950s through the 1970s. Dorothy died on March 19, 2013 in Lacey, Washington. She was 95 and actively involved with her family and friends, she participated in a long-standing book discussion group, her church, and enjoyed attending theater and opera. When she retired, a November 1979 article in The Olympian quoted her as saying, “When I left, I said I was quitting, not retiring. Because retiring seems to mean sitting on the shelf, and that’s not for me!”
Dorothy earned a B.A. from Willamette University in 1940, a B.A. in Librarianship from the University of Washington in 1941, and an M.S. in Library Science in 1952 from the University of Illinois.
Dorothy’s career began at Salem Public Library in 1941. During the war she joined Army Special Services and served as the Post Librarian at Fort Shafter, Honolulu, then as Assistant Island Librarian at Guam. Her Army work in civil service, from 1943 – 1946, included training personnel to work in the library, establishing library branches and extending library services to field troops.
After leaving the Army she worked for the California Contra Costa County Library from 1946 - 1951, but her interest in extending library services beyond conventional library buildings led her to the University of Illinois for a Master in Library Science. She focused her studies on building and extending library services as well as courses in library procedures and personnel practices. She received her MLS in 1952 and then joined the Washington State Library as Assistant Field Librarian. She was Director of Library Development when she retired in 1979.
Dorothy was both director of, and consultant to, several federally funded demonstration programs that established regional public libraries throughout Washington state. Additionally, she assisted city libraries as they individually decided to combine their services so they could better serve their constituents. The list of libraries that drew on her expertise is long and reflects the depth of her influence in developing public libraries in the state. Dorothy directed the demonstrations for the North Central Regional Library and the Timberland Regional Library, and she consulted with the Yakima Regional Library, the Sno-Isle Regional Library, Fort Vancouver Regional Library, Mid-Columbia Regional Library and many others. Today there are thirty library districts, which are junior taxing districts created by a vote of the people, across Washington state. Dorothy’s activities reflected her concern for building library and educational services in the state, the Pacific Northwest and the nation. She was a life-long member of the Washington Library Association, the American Library Association, the Association of University Women, and Beta Phi Mu. She was a member of the Washington State Legislature Joint Committee on Education, as well as the Subcommittee on Educational TV and Libraries. She was a member of committees that produced the “Standards for Library Functions at the State Level” in 1970, and the 1969 Nelson Study “Public Library Systems in the U.S.”
Dorothy was staff to the Washington State Advisory Council on Libraries and as a result of that responsibility she provided creativity, planning, coordination and leadership throughout the state. Prime results of her work included the local and statewide Governor’s Conference on Libraries and later the establishment of the state planning regions that provided planning and leadership for what was to become the Washington Library Network.
In the book Dynamics of Change; a History of the Washington State Library (published by the Washington State University Press in 2001), the co-author, retired State Librarian Maryan Reynolds, consistently refers to two library consultants by only last names, an indication of their prominence in moving the Washington library community forward. One of the two was Cutler.
- Memorial Service Thursday, April 4, 2013
- Final Resting Place