Dorothy Orr Farmer
Dorothy Orr Farmer

A native of Watertown, NY, Dorothy Farmer graduated Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College in 1943 with a degree in mathematics. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She began her career at Dana Hall in 1945 as a faculty member in the Mathematics Department.

Ms. Farmer played a significant role in the history of the Dana Hall School, holding numerous leadership positions throughout the course of her tenure. Her prowess as an educator and leader were quickly recognized by students and faculty. As a result, she was appointed Head of the Mathematics Department in 1949.

Ms. Farmer’s involvement in Dana Hall School soon extended beyond the scope of the classroom and into other areas of the school. She served as Chairman of the Educational Policy Committee and was an active member of the Admissions Committee. She assumed the position of Assistant Head of Studies in 1959 and was appointed Head of Studies in 1960. Because of her dedication to Dana Hall and proficiency as an educator and administrator, the School called upon Ms. Farmer in1962 to serve as Acting Head following the retirement of Alnah Johnston. She fulfilled these duties until Head of School Edith Phelps arrived in 1963.

“Superb teacher and valued friend, Dorothy Farmer for (several generations) shared with the Dana community those qualities of mind and spirit that have guided the School well through the upheavals of our times,” says Edith Phelps, former colleague and friend.

Years later in 1979, the School once again looked to Ms. Farmer for leadership while Head of School Patricia Wertheimer traveled on school business. She retired from her administrative duties in 1981 and returned to the classroom full-time. The Class of 1981, in observance of her returning to teaching, declared her an honorary member of their class.

Ms. Farmer officially retired from Dana Hall in 1990. To commemorate her 46 years of dedication to the School and the field of education, a special celebration was held in her honor in May of 1990. Despite her official resignation from any formal duties she remained a very visible and active participant in various functions of the school.

Ms. Farmer was a resident of Wellesley. In her retirement, she became an active community volunteer, devoting much of her time to the Wellesley Village Church where she was a valued member of the Village Churchwomen and the acclaimed Bell Ringers.


Reprinted from Dana Hall Bulletin, Fall 2002, Vol.65, No.1.
Dorothy Farmer, photograph. Dana Hall Archives, Wellesley, MA.
Originally published as Person of the Week, January 16, 2006