August 05, 2009 Edition

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Dorothy and Mary Willmuth
are 'Two for the price of one'



Mary (left) and Dorothy Willmuth

(Editor's note: Dorothy and Mary Willmuth, who live in Agawam, Mass., were featured recently in the Agawam Advertiser News column, "Interesting Folks," which is written by Warren Parker. Dorothy was a longtime resident of Walnut Ridge before moving to Agawam in November of 2005 to be with her daughter, Mary, who grew up in Walnut Ridge. This column is reprinted with the permission of the Agawam Advertiser News.)

"Buy one, get one free." We see that ad frequently run by grocery stores and sometimes we take advantage of it.

Originally, I thought I was going to interview one person, Mary. As it turned out, I unknowingly made an appointment over the phone with her mother, Dorothy, a delightful elderly lady. So, in a sense, I ended up with "two for the price of one."

Both of these fine ladies have had excellent articles published in a local paper. Dorothy (the mother) wrote about the closing of the MSPCA in Springfield. Mary (the daughter) wrote an article, which I totally agreed with, relative to Joe Arpaio, the noteable sheriff in Phoenix, Ariz. Arpaio, in many people's opinion, is doing an outstanding job in the law enforcement business. He not only saves Arizona millions of dollars, but his operational style makes most prisoners wish they never went wrong.

Hopefully, you enjoy conversing with a person who thinks as you do on some issues. After reading the letter Mary wrote, I simply wanted to call and compliment her. That's how the "dual" two-for-one interview originated. So, putting age before beauty, let's start with Mary's mom, Dorothy. Both ladies are attractive and have really great personalities.

The interview

Q. When and where were you born?

A. I was born Feb. 1, 1925, in Missouri.

Q. What composed your immediate family?

A. I had five brothers and one sister. They are now all deceased. I am the last one living.

Q. What was your childhood like?

A. I really had a lonely childhood. These were the big Depression years and we were a very poor family. My mother was a single mother raising seven children and for us to survive, my mother got legal, proper authority to make wine. We had a lot of cherry trees on our property and she had her own winery.

Q. What was your schooling background?

A. I went to local schools in Arkansas and graduated from high school in 1942. After that, I took some training to become a laboratory technician.

Q. Tell me about your work experience.

A. I went to work as a clerk for a contractor who built an air base in Walnut Ridge.

Q. What do you consider one of your accomplishments in life?

A. Giving birth to my wonderful daughter and raising her to be the successful lady she is today.

Q. Tell me the kind of advice you would give to the young people today.

A. I'd tell them to learn to live within their budgets and to manage themselves and their own income properly.

Q. And the advice you would offer to the elderly?

A. At our age (I'm 84), we should strive to live every day to the fullest.

Dorothy and her husband, Homer, were married in 1948. Her husband died in 1993. They had one child, Mary. Though Dorothy's life has not been a "bed of roses," she has a wonderful attitude and philosophy of life in general. She is a relatively active lady and has a very delightful personality.

Mary

Q. When and where were you born?

A. I was born Jan. 12, 1951, in Jonesboro.

Q. How would you describe your childhood?

A. Even though I was an only child, I really had fun growing up. I liked school and graduated as the valedictorian of Walnut Ridge High School in 1969.

Q. After high school, what did you do?

A. I attended Eastern Connecticut State University and got a B.S. degree in psychology. Then I attended the University of Phoenix and earned a master's degree in organizational management.

Q. What has been your work experience?

A. I first started out working for Sears Roebuck for a few years. Then I went to work for America Foundation Life in Little Rock, and became retirement plan supervisor. After that, I became the business manager for Conn. Mutual in Little Rock. In 1987, I transferred to the home office in Hartford, Conn. Then I became the operation director and in 1995, went from Conn. Mutual to Mass Mutual in Scottsdale, Ariz. In 2000, I came to the Mass. Mutual home office in Springfield as a financial consultant.

Q. What would you consider to be one of your accomplishments?

A. The fact that I have beat cancer, twice. I now enjoy helping others who are now fighting cancer.

Q. What are your thoughts about the future?

A. Simply take one day at a time and do the best I can and enjoy life in general.

There are countless mothers and daughters, I am sure, who would love to have the very close, harmonious and loving relationship that Dorothy and Mary have.

In visiting the two of them together, you quickly observe the very close love and admiration they have for each other. It is obvious that Dorothy did a fine job in raising her successful daughter. Since Mary is a divorcee without children, she and her mother are wise and capable enough to enjoy life and make the most of it. I am sure they have many friends because of their outstanding personalities.

For this interviewer this "two-for-one" was a real bargain and I enjoyed every minute of our delightful visit.

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