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Hilda Lois Worthington

May 22, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • Hilda Worthington poses for this picture taken in the 1940s.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Hilda Lois Worthington, who died May 7 at the age of 89. Her obituary was published in the May 9 edition of The Herald-Mail.

No one could accuse Hilda Worthington of not being adventurous.

Just ask her children, who could attest to that, both from stories they heard and their own experiences with their mother.

"When she spent her summers in McConnellsburg, Pa., mom used to ride a blind horse," said Beth Watson, her youngest daughter. That takes courage, she said.

Then, there was the summer when Hilda and all three of her children spent three to four weeks crisscrossing America by train with the ultimate destination being Disneyland in California.

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Hilda chose the train because her husband, Robert, had worked for the railroad for many years.

Daughter Kathy Worthington, who was 14 at the time of that trip, said she remembers what happened when they arrived at the amusement park. Each child received a ticket book for rides.

"But we weren't allowed to use them the first day -- we had to walk around and decide which we really wanted to ride," she said.

"I remember the 'magic keys' we got while we were at Disneyland," said her son, Bob Worthington. "I have a few left as keepsakes."

In later years, Hilda spearheaded family trips to Walt Disney World in Florida when grandchildren were included in the entourage.

"She loved traveling and often went on cruises with retired schoolteachers," Beth said.

All three of Hilda's children marveled at how hard their mother worked -- first to become a teacher and then to be an effective one.

Hilda graduated from Juniata College in 1942 and taught math at Smithsburg, Clear Spring and South Hagerstown high schools. She later taught summer school at North Hagerstown High School.

"Before school started in the fall, we kids would go in and clean the blackboards for her," Bob said.

Bob also remembers that dinner always was on the table on time even with her teaching responsibilities. After dinner, Hilda would grade papers while still being a mother to her three children.

Beth said she remembers her mother also directing plays at Clear Spring when she wasn't teaching math.

"I got tickets for plays and dinner theaters for my birthdays," she said.

Later, Hilda's grandchildren were on the receiving end of those same gifts.

"When I was a junior in high school, mom spent a year at Arizona State University getting her master's degree," Beth said. "I went with her and attended school in Arizona that year."

Kathy said when she was 8 or 9, the family got a television set when they lived in Maugansville.

"All the kids in the neighborhood would be at our house," she said. "Mom said she might just as well be teaching school."

All three agreed that education was important to their mother. After her husband's death in 1990, Hilda established a memorial scholarship in his name through the Alsatia Club.

The family has asked that their mother's friends might want to consider that fund as they remember Hilda.

Kathy's own educational odyssey began after she had eye surgery when she was just 5.

"After that, I decided to become a doctor," Kathy said.

Now a psychiatrist, Kathy studied in Montserrat and the Dominican Republic.

"Mom traveled to Montserrat once to visit me while I was in school there," Kathy said.

Bob keenly remembers his mother's great sense of fun.

"Once when I was in Scouts, I went to a magic shop and got some trick salt water taffy and gave it to her," he said.

Fortunately, he said she loved the joke.

"Our mom was incredible," Beth said.

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