obit: Dorothy Hammitt Shandera
Dorothy Hammitt Shandera passed away January 3, 2012 after a courageous fight with Alzheimer's disease. She was born November 8, 1929 in Sardis, Mississippi to George Monroe and Mary Chamblin Hammitt. Dorothy valued education in all forms and was a proud alumna of Mississippi University for Women (formerly Mississippi State College for Women), graduating with a degree in English and Theatre. She also received a master's degree from Sam Houston State University in correctional education.
Dorothy taught for 35 years at the elementary through junior college levels but her true passion was working at the intermediate school level, especially directing her students in plays. She was continually recognized for her outstanding performance in the classroom, including being named Teacher of the Year for Conroe Independent School District. Even in retirement, she continued to educate with she and her husband chaperoning several groups of young people as part of the sister city program to Niharu Village, Japan and spending hours volunteering and mentoring in schools. Dorothy also worked as a correctional institutional educator, establishing the Life Skills program for the Windham School System of the Texas Department of Corrections.
When committing to an endeavor, she typically assumed a leadership role, serving as president of the Texas Corrections Association, district president of the Texas State Teachers Association and with the Austin branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in addition to multiple other organizations.
Dorothy's interest in politics was driven by a belief that citizenship requires involvement and commitment. She worked in the office of then-Texas Senator Sarah Weddington and was active in the effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. She also served as county chairperson for the Walker County Democrats and made every effort to vote in all elections and passionately campaigned for those candidates she supported – whether local or national.
Dorothy's involvement in and advocacy on behalf of her community was considerable especially during her more than 25 years in Huntsville, Texas. She served on multiple boards and committees, including for the Parks and Recreation department and SAAFE House, Walker County Historical Commission and Huntsville Community Theatre. She also was instrumental in the establishment of Huntsville's Old Town Theatre, working to ensure that others would be able to enjoy the plays, musicals and performers that had brought so much joy to her throughout her life.
Dorothy is now reunited with her one true love, Charley, to whom she was married for more than 42 years. She is survived by a brother, George Monroe Hammitt, II; three daughters, Deborah Shandera, Mary Simmons Mattingly and Cynthia (Cindi) Shandera Johnson; son Tom Simmons, Jr. and son-in-law Andy Johnson. She also leaves behind two grandchildren who were the joy of her life, Sarah and Evan Johnson, numerous nieces and nephews, as well as hundreds if not thousands of former students, colleagues, friends and acquaintances, all of whom were impacted by her having a role in their lives. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of the following organizations that meant so much to her: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , Running Strong (for American Indian Youth), the Roxie Douglas Scholarship Foundation or the Rita B. Huff Humane Society in Huntsville.
Visitation will be 4-6 p.m. Sunday, January 8, at the Cook-Walden Chapel of the Hills Funeral Home. A Funeral Service will be held 1 p.m. Monday, January, 9, 2012 at the funeral home in Austin, a private family burial will take place in The Texas State Cemetery.
A memorial service will be held in Huntsville in the spring at First Presbyterian Church.
Cook-Walden of the Hills Funeral Home