Dorothy Rodham ~ 1919-2011 Hillary Clinton's Inspiration

Article excerpt

Byline: Kerry Lester Politics and Projects Writer klester@dailyherald.com

A suburban woman who never sought a career outside the home is widely considered as the force behind the tenacity and gumption of her daughter, one of the most powerful individuals in American government.

Dorothy Rodham, mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, died Tuesday.

The former Park Ridge woman was 92.

"You live a little vicariously through your kids though not too much," Kevin O'Keefe, a college friend of Clinton's, remarked Tuesday.

O'Keefe remembers watching Rodham as Bill Clinton took the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 and when her daughter was sworn in as senator of New York, and later, as secretary of state.

"She beamed," he said.

Dorothy Emma Howell was born in 1919 in Chicago, but was sent on a train to live with her strict grandparents in California after her parents' divorce.

After high school, Dorothy returned to Chicago hoping to reconcile with her mother, who had promised to pay for her college education. But when she arrived, she was tasked instead to work as the housekeeper.

Park Ridge librarians Tuesday pointed to archives noting Mrs. Rodham met her future husband, Hugh Rodham, when the two were working in a Chicago lace factory. They married in 1942, with eldest daughter Hillary born five years later, followed by sons Hugh and Tony.

Though without a college degree, Dorothy Rodham was always interested in furthering her education, taking college courses late into her years.

"By necessity she taught herself so many things," said Betsy Ebeling, an Arlington Heights resident and Clinton's closest childhood friend.

The Rodhams made their home at a brick colonial on the corner of Elm and Wisner streets in Park Ridge, blocks away from the family's church and school. …