Dorothy May Jenks, née Hubbs, was born May 1, 1903 in Silverton, Oregon, to George and Ethel Hubbs. Dorothy loved spending time in the kitchen, and as the oldest of four children, she had a lot of responsibility around the house. In high school, the home economics teacher noticed her interest and encouraged her to attend Oregon Agricultural College. Dorothy loved her time at OAC because she not only studied a subject she enjoyed, but also was able to study voice, participate in choral groups and productions, and act in plays. She belonged to National Collegiate Players, which put on small productions throughout the valley. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and paid for her last year of college through her job as house manager. After graduating, Dorothy taught in Molalla and Silverton. Soon, she took a position with Edison Electric Appliance Co., a subsidiary of General Electric that made Hotpoint appliances. She was headquartered in Seattle and traveled around the area demonstrating the new electric stoves. Many of the ladies she visited with thought the electric stove would never replace their reliable wood stoves.
In 1928, Dorothy was visiting her former vocal professor, Paul Petri, when she met Jim Jenks. They were married June 1, 1929. Jim and Dorothy moved to Albany, where Jim was in the wholesale seed business with his brother Howard at Jenks-White Seed Co. They raised two children, Jim and Mary, during the Depression. During the war, Dorothy also cared for her nephew while his father was at war. She rolled bandages, raised a victory garden, made hundreds of quarts of applesauce, and saved rubber and tin for scrap drives like so many others of that era.
Dorothy and Jim sang in the Presbyterian choir, and Jim was a well-known soloist who appeared in many productions. Dorothy had a passion for singing and music. She had a sweet, high coloratura soprano voice and was a lover of classical music, especially opera. She helped to organize the Albany Choristers and the Albany Community Concerts in the late 1940s. She was also a member of the Chapter O of the PEO Sisterhood and the Leisure Hour book club. Over the years, she was active in the Red Cross, American Association of University Women, Order of the Eastern Star, Albany General Hospital Auxiliary, Girl Scouts, and the Parent-Teacher Association.
Dorothy was devoted to meal planning and correct diet long before it was fashionable and she never missed a morning’s exercise routine. She was amazingly spry into her late nineties. She also loved homemaking. She studied magazines, drew plans, matched colors and fabrics, moved pictures and knickknacks around, and insisted the children pick up their belongings. Her family loved her chicken supreme, chocolate cakes, apple crisps, and baked beans. When her granddaughters were married and beginning their homes, she wrote books (in longhand) of some of her favorite recipes. After the children left home, Dorothy took up crafts. She made intricate Christmas ornaments, worked in petit-point, and made lovely macramé decorations.
Soon after her ninety-ninth birthday and just a few months after a serious bronchitis attack, her children suggested she move into an assisted living center. She took their advice, and found a whole new group of friends and more activities to keep her engaged.
Dorothy was deeply spiritual. She prayed every day and for decades read the Daily Word, a small devotional book. In her later years, she often said in difficult circumstances, “Lovingly, in the hands of the Father.” It became the thought with which her children most identified her.
Dorothy died on September 17, 2004. The Dorothy Jenks Endowed Scholarship Fund was established by Doris Scharpf in loving tribute to her long friendship with Dorothy. Doris and her late husband Bill moved to Albany in 1946 and over the years have made generous gifts to many organizations supporting the activities of young people in the community. Scholarships are awarded from this fund to the winners of an annual performance competition facilitated by the Linn-Benton Chapter of the Oregon Music Teachers Association.