Dorathea Teeter

Posted by - - 1940s, Believers

For decades, Whitworth alumna Dorathea Teeter, ’41, made her home in a dangerous place, knowing it was exactly where she needed to be. Amid the political turmoil, military conflicts and bombings around her, Teeter stood strong in her resolve to serve the people of Beirut, Lebanon.

Since 1951, Teeter devoted her life to serving as a fraternal worker with the United Presbyterian Church. She worked as a consultant to the National Synod of Syria and Lebanon, specializing in Christian children’s education. This role led to one of her greatest life projects: publishing the first children’s Bible in Arabic. She also developed an extensive set of education materials and textbooks for religion courses in church-related day schools.

Whitworth awarded Teeter the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1970. When Whitworth conferred upon Teeter an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1981, dozens of faculty, classmates and friends wrote of their admiration for the woman who worked with conviction amid uncertainty and life-jeopardizing situations. Former registrar Estella Baldwin, a lifelong friend who visited Teeter and worked a year with her in Lebanon, wrote:

“I know how highly she is revered in the Middle East. She is revered for her faith, her personal skills, her creativity, even though she often has little with which to work. She has been able to accomplish that which, to most of us, would have seemed impossible amid all the war and turmoil in the city of Beirut. Through it all she has never once considered dropping everything and coming home, which would have been the easy way out, but rather she has stuck to the task she was sent to do and what she has accomplished is unbelievable. She is dependable and sincere in every respect. She has learned Arabic to the extent that she has no problems with interpretation in any way. I personally know of no graduate of Whitworth College who is worthier than Dorathea Teeter for recognition by her alma mater.”

Teeter has remained a strong support of Whitworth students. In the mid-1980s, she wrote President Robert Mounce, requesting help with sending a young woman, who had fled with her family from Sidon and entered Teeter’s school in Beirut, to Whitworth. Teeter has also remained a faithful and selfless financial supporter of Whitworth, both during her career overseas and after she returned to the states, in 1984.