Dorothy Spanjer honored
WVC Foundation honors Dorothy Spanjer posthumously for student support
Media Contact: Stacey Lockhart, WVC Foundation executive director, 509.682.6415, or Libby Siebens, community relations executive director, 509.682.6436 (Mon. – Thurs.)
November 23, 2015
|Members of the WVC Foundation and the Spanjer family at the Barbara
Wilson Women's Luncheon on Nov. 19, 2015.
The Wenatchee Valley College Foundation honored Dorothy Spanjer for her support of students seeking degrees in special education at a Barbara Wilson Women's Luncheon on Nov. 19.
In 1979, Dorothy and her husband Lawrence, longtime Cashmere residents and orchardists, established the Corky Spanjer Scholarship Endowment with the WVC Foundation in honor of their son Corky, who was born in 1959 with Down Syndrome. The endowment supports students majoring in special education, and provides full tuition and books for second year (or sophomore) students.
In an interview with the Cashmere Valley Record, Dorothy said, "This scholarship is to help people teach the children. We just wanted to help those children. We saw a great need for it.... We went to a Special Olympics event and that really opened our eyes when we saw what they were doing. It takes a special person to do all this."
The Spanjers' eldest daughter, Diana Sundal, shared some of Corky's story at the luncheon honoring her mother. "The 50s were not a good time to have a child with severe Down Syndrome," she said, and described how distressed her mother felt when she was unable to bring Corky home from the hospital after his birth. After living at home for a couple of years, Corky was placed at Lakeland Village, a home for handicapped children. During one of her visits, Dorothy learned that Corky had gone blind as a result of an infection. He was transferred to the Vancouver School for the Blind.
"There was a teacher's aide who became Corky's miracle worker," Sundal said. "She was able to do so much for him that the school decided to keep Corky one more year beyond his 18th birthday. I think the teacher's aide had a great influence on my mother wanting to do this scholarship. I will never forget her calling to tell me about the first recipient. Her exact words were, 'She will be teaching kids like Corky!' Thank goodness we have come a long way in understanding and teaching handicap children who no longer are placed in an institution."
Sundal also added that despite disliking school herself, Dorothy was a strong supporter of others becoming teachers. "She said she was poor, had no self-confidence and was so shy," Sundal said. "Yet she supported both my sister and me becoming teachers. We were just the beginning of the many teachers Mother supported and continues to support."
The scholarship has supported over 40 WVC students. Those who have received financial support from the scholarship have transferred from WVC to Pacific Lutheran University, Central Washington University, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, among others. Sandra Warrington and Kelly Wennerberg are two recent scholarship recipients. Warrington graduated with a degree in early childhood education in June, and she is working at Mission Vista.
"I would not be doing this wonderful work if they had not believed in me," Warrington said of the Spanjers and their support.
Wennerberg transferred to CWU after attending WVC, and then she began working at Orchard Middle School as the resource room teacher. She is now in her third year at Wenatchee High School as the life skills teacher. Wennerberg described a meeting she had with Dorothy, Lawrence and Corky Spanjer: "Not only did I instantly realize how great Corky was, I was able to see right away how caring and compassionate his parents were as well. Their love for Corky not only shined in person but also through their scholarship they had set up for future special education teachers."
Dorothy was born on May 28, 1919, in Leavenworth. She married Lawrence on Dec. 5, 1949. After Dorothy passed away on July 27, 2010, Lawrence continued to support the Corky Spanjer Scholarship until his death on January 29, 2014.