Dorothy Sauber — artist, teacher, mother, citizen, friend — died at the age of 61 on August 17, 2008. As an artist, Dorothy was well-known in the 1980s for her vivid pictorial hooked rugs that illustrated ordinary family life, her rural Minnesota roots, and her Powderhorn Park community, as well as progressive politics and women’s issues.
As a professor at Anoka Ramsey Community College and mentor for many, she challenged students — and her friends — to look beyond their personal borders and expand their boundaries to explore issues of our times: women’s studies; African studies; world literature; creative writing; and journaling. She was a voracious reader and disciplined writer. When diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, Dorothy responded by creating a series of 16 essays that explored the many facets of living with a terminal disease. Within these writings one can find the essence of Dorothy’s rich life including her humor, family, philosophy, friends, and her endless generosity. After her death her sons and several friends organized, edited, designed and published Cancer Essays: Not the Book I Was Planning to Write.
As a collector and world traveler, she mused on all she had gathered through the years. One hundred of her 600+ aprons were displayed as “A Century of Aprons” at the Hennepin History Museum in 2005-06. Another one hundred were exhibited in a similar exhibit at Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, WI. She donated those aprons to the museums, and her large collection of books on women artists to St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul.
After one extensive trip to several African countries, she filled a warehouse with donated books that were distributed to schools in Zimbabwe. She served on the board of Books for Africa for several years. Other travel agendas and two Fulbright scholarships took her to northern and southern Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Cuba, Israel, Palestine, and Europe.
Dorothy’s ability to engage life and embrace friendships packed her 61 years with great satisfaction and joy. Her biggest achievement, she said, was her close relationship with her two sons — in childhood and adulthood. Dorothy welcomed four grandsons into her life with warmth, exuberance, and love.