Dorothy DuNard loved her community, fought for social justice

Sunday, March 30, 2014 | 7:57 p.m. CDT; updated 8:29 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 31, 2014

COLUMBIA — Dorothy DuNard never intended to return to Columbia. 

A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Mrs. DuNard moved to Washington state, where she lived until 1954. Her son, Paul DuNard, remembers her reluctant homecoming.

"I never thought I'd be coming back to this hot hellhole!" Paul DuNard said she exclaimed at the time as the family arrived to especially hot temperatures in Columbia.  

With time, Mrs. DuNard grew to love Columbia and earned the admiration of her neighbors during her life as a journalist and writer. 

As an accounts manager and advertiser at the Columbia Daily Tribune, Mrs. DuNard became acquainted with many of her neighbors who did business on Broadway. As the city expanded, she wrote a column in the Tribune on the "House of the Week." Paul DuNard said she "got to know an immense number of people in town and from all levels of life."

Dorothy Mae DuNard of Columbia died Saturday, March 29, 2014. She was 96.

She was born Sept. 20, 1917, in St. Charles, to Rex Danenhower and Katherine Adele (Siener) McIntire.

Mrs. Dunard graduated from MU with honors in 1939 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. 

The family moved to Seattle when her husband, Paul Lawrence DuNard, was stationed there during World War II. They were married on June 9, 1941, in St. Louis. They later moved to Yakima, Wash., where Mrs. DuNard worked as an advertising manager for the department store Bon Marche. 

Paul DuNard said Mrs. DuNard experienced culture shock when the family moved to a segregated Columbia from the progressive West Coast.

"She was very, very progressive," Paul DuNard said. "I remember we went to school and noticed there were no black people in school. That's when we had the talk about segregation." 

Mrs. DuNard used her writing to give voice to the segregated neighborhoods in Columbia that were being seized by the city under the terms of urban renewal.

"She said for years and years she would walk down the street in that neighborhood and people she didn't know would say 'Hello Ms. Dorothy'," Paul DuNard said. "That was an interesting story that she did. A matter of economic justice is basically what motivated her."

Mrs. DuNard fought for her family home and the homes of her neighbors on College Avenue when the university tried to use eminent domain to claim the properties below market value. 

After a series of columns exposing the unfair situation, the DuNard family and their neighbors received market value compensation for their residences. 

Paul DuNard said his mother, previously the president of the Missouri Writer's Guild, indirectly taught her children. 

"I was an English major, she was probably the one that inadvertently influenced my way to that job — teaching, studying English, studying literature and being interested in writing," he said. 

Paul DuNard remembers his mother's story about former President Harry S. Truman's visit to an alumni meeting at the Journalism School. According to Mrs. DuNard's account, President Truman castigated the editor of the Columbia Missourian for running an old story about the event in lieu of writing a new one, Paul DuNard said. 

"She said, 'That teaches you, kids, don't rely on past successes!'" he said. 

After she stopped working full time, Mrs. DuNard published a series of freelance poems, which won awards from the Missouri Writer's Guild, the Missouri Writer's Week and the Springfield Writer's Guild. She also contributed to the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series with her short story "Gift Wrapped Memory."

Neighbor Carol Jacobs said she will miss the Saturdays she spent with Mrs. DuNard the most. 

"I'd take her to the beauty shop on Saturday mornings and I'd go out to eat with her," Jacobs said. 

Jacobs, who attended the same high school in St. Louis county as Mrs. DuNard, said she cherished birthdays with her neighbor. 

"We had a birthday party with her every year for the last five years," she said. "She was a very friendly, very nice person. I'm going to miss her very much."

Mrs. DuNard is survived by three daughters, Dorothy Stokes and husband, Leon, of Lohman, Mo., Diana Alba and husband, Don, of South Daytona, Fla., and daughter Barbara DuNard of Columbia; two sons, Paul DuNard of Cypress, Calif., and Kurt DuNard and wife, Joan, of Issaquah, Wash.; five grandchildren, Lisa McFadden and husband, Michael, of Newburgh, Ind., Heather Wright and husband, Jeff, of Launceston, Tasmania, Christina Alba and husband, Scott Lynn, of Prague, Stacy Stokes and wife, Tina, of Jefferson City and John Alba and wife, Daisy, of Sutton, Mass.; 10 greatgrandchildren, Molly, Colin, Aidan and Grace McFadden of Newburgh, Ind., Adelai and Piper Wright of Launceston, Tasmania, Chloe Alba of Prague, Zakary and Grant Stokes of Jefferson City and Dylan Celli of Sutton, Mass.

Her husband, Paul DuNard; a brother, Rex McIntire Jr. and a grandson Michael Stokes died earlier.

The DuNard family will have a private celebration at a future date.

Memorial contributions can be made at

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