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Dr. Nathan and Dorothy Ivey

Dorothy Ivey Passes Away at 101

Published on February 27, 2023 - 1 p.m.

Dorothy Lee Lewis Ivey (Jan. 25, 1922-Feb. 25, 2023), the wife of Southwestern Michigan College’s first president, Dr. Nathan Ivey, died of aortic valve failure early Saturday after five weeks in home hospice care in Dallas. She was 101.

Her husband of 73 years, 95, was at her bedside the night before with their three children, grandchildren and a great-grandson.

“I was happy to correspond with the Iveys the past few years,” President Dr. Joe Odenwald said, “and was delighted when Dr. Ivey sent me a picture of Mrs. Ivey in an SMC sweatshirt I sent.”

Nathan and Dorothy are native Texans who met as undergrads at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

Mrs. Ivey’s work as a teacher inspired thousands of students to love literature, language and writing.

During 30 years in public schools, Mrs. Ivey taught a combination of Latin, English, history and journalism. She sponsored high-school newspapers for more than 20 years.

She finished her master’s degree from Western State University of Colorado, Gunnison, while living in Dowagiac.

“I think I did some of my best teaching when we lived in Dowagiac,” she recalled in 2021. “I always loved teaching writing in English classes. It was a joy to teach some wonderful young people at Central Junior High. They filled our house on Orchard Street, studied around our dining table in the evenings, shoveled our snow, made pizza and cleaned my kitchen.”

SMC, 1965-68, was the second of Dr. Ivey’s four college presidencies and one of two he helped “start from scratch.”

He was the college’s commencement speaker in 2011. The Iveys attended SMC’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2014.