Alumni Profiles     

Jane Turner Dodson, ’40
Marlowe Sherwood Memorial Service Award, 2006


The Alumni Awards Committee and the Alumni Council chose to award a second Marlowe Sherwood Memorial Service Award in 2006 . This award came as a big surprise to its recipient, Jane Turner Dodson, ’40, who learned about the decision only a few weeks before the awards banquet.

Referred to as “Volunteer Extraordinaire” in the nomination letter, it is no surprise that community service has simply been the way of life for Jane. As she explains, “I never thought of it as volunteering. It was just my way of life. I just loved always being involved.”

Jane’s passion for involvement began early while in high school in Belton, Missouri.  She remembers such activities as helping in children’s Sunday School and organizing the school’s first pep club. She took this same spirit to Park, where she was a Calliopean, worked as a salad girl and later waitress in Thompson Commons, joined Zeta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Theta Pi, worked on the NARVA staff, played on the women’s basketball team, and was a women’s speedball all star. She graduated from Park with a major in history and minors in home economics and English. 

After teaching high school for a year, Jane embarked on an exciting life as a Navy wife. She arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 3, 1941, just in time to experience the attack on Pearl Harbor first hand. For the next 26 years she followed husband Al Dodson’s career from base to base, raising three sons and employing her energies as a volunteer with Navy service organizations.

Navy Relief Services, the organization that takes care of enlisted personnel, awarded Jane a “5000 Hour” pin in 1960, after which she stopped counting hours. Some of the volunteer services that Jane provided to the Navy’s efforts to take care of its own included managing and working in thrift shops, interviewing applicants for assistance, organizing groups of volunteers to knit and sew clothing for babies of young enlisted personnel at naval training bases, and organizing bazaars to raise money to support these functions. While stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, Jane realized that there were no children’s books available so she raised funds and created a children’s library. There Jane and her family experienced another infamous event, the 1964 Alaskan earthquake! She volunteered with the Salvation Army in Kodiak. While living at Coronado, near San Diego, California, she was a volunteer, caring for wives whose husbands were out to sea. In Rhode Island she worked on the newspaper serving navy wives.  

During her husband’s years of active duty, Jane taught Sunday school classes at the chapel on base or at local Presbyterian or Methodist churches. Along the way she continued to pursue volunteer opportunities outside the Navy community, serving on the school board in Kodiak and participating in various garden clubs, PTAs, and other organizations. She even did eye screening for the Lions Club.

Her husband’s retirement from the Navy and his pursuit of a new career brought Jane back to the Midwest and Park. Her interests in history and English led her to volunteer in the local libraries and museums.    

Prior to her husband’s death in 1987, he developed Parkinson’s Disease. As a result Jane organized the first Parkinson’s Disease support group in North Cass County and remains active with the group. Today Jane lives in the Foxwood Springs Retirement Community. She volunteers and works in their library, where she creates educational displays and manages a genealogical computer group.   

Jane served on the Park Alumni Council from 1976 through 1979. She returned for two more terms in 2000 and retires from the council once again this year. She has served as class agent for the Class of 1940, and as a member of the Alumni Weekend and the Alumni Awards committees during these last few years. She is currently chairperson of the awards committee. It was this committee who, without her knowledge, voted to recognize Jane’s outstanding community service and service to Park University by giving her this award as she leaves the council once again.




Jane Turner Dodson, '40

1940 NARVA Photo