52 Ancestors: Dorothy Redford Morse Melcher #30

This week’s theme is “colorful.” As a young child, I was fortunate to live close to my maternal Grandparents; Dr. Donald Seward and Dorothy Melcher. The best thing about staying at their place? Unlimited art supplies. My favorites were the watercolor paints and the Cray-Pas (pastel crayons). Grandma Seward died when I was only seven so it wasn’t until I got older that I realized what Grandma had accomplished by the time I came along.

Dorothy R. M. Melcher was born in Boston, MA in 1906 to Carol Benjamin Morse Melcher and Mary Ellen O’Brien. She was the eldest of three daughters and she was expected to look after her parents in their old age. They sent her to Boston Clerical School and she was working as a stenographer by the time she met my grandfather. Donald was taking some classes at Harvard after completing his Master’s and took a boat tour of the Massachusetts Bay which my grandmother also was taking. Did they know then what we know now? Despite having grown up several thousand miles apart, they both had ancestors with roots in the Brunswick/Topsham area of Maine.

My grandparents had four daughters together and ended up settling in Arkansas where my grandfather took a teaching position at Ouachita Baptist College. Thanks to the faculty tuition waiver, all four daughters plus my grandmother were able to get their own degrees. Dorothy chose to get a Bachelor’s degree in Art and completed it in her 60s. Afterwards she taught art classes and participated in local art shows. Tragically, her career did not last long; she died of cancer at the age of 68. At least she got to realize her dream of a college degree.

My grandparents spent every other summer packing up the family into a car and driving from Arkadelphia, Arkansas to Bath, Maine with at least one stop in Boston. They spent the summers in a family cottage west of Bath. The coast of Maine and sailing ships were big influence of my Grandmother and she not only painted, but took many photographs of the area. Below is one of her paintings and her portrait.


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