Dorothy Bressler

dorothy 1930

Dorothy Bressler 1930
33 years old.

Dorothy Bressler is my grandmother’s sister.  She was born 17 May 1897 in Wayne, Nebraska to a relatively wealthy family.

Dorothy Bressler 1903.  In this photo she looks so much like her sister, Kate.

Dorothy Bressler 1903. In this photo she looks so much like her sister, Kate.

She’s in a few photos.  What I know of her is that as an adult, she was a dark-haired beauty who did fine needle work.  She didn’t socialize much, never married, and was institutionalized for the last three decades of her life.  All because she had epilepsy.

dorothys needlework

Dorothy’s Needlework
3″ x 5″

dorothySometime after her father died in 1935, Dorothy was put in the State Hospital in Hastings, Nebraska.  Later she was moved closer to home to the Norfolk State Hospital.  Her brother, John, wrote much later that he took their mother there every 3 to 4 weeks to visit.  It’s a drive of just over 30 miles – not an easy trip in those days.  I have to assume that her sisters and others visited regularly, if not frequently.  After their mother died in 1947, John says he went to visit every 3 or 4 weeks, “but was not very satisfactory visit as she always wanted me to take her home.”  She died in the Norfolk State Hospital 18 August 1963 and is buried with her family in Wayne.  She was 66 years old.

dorothys service

Attitudes were different then and knowledge of epilepsy was minimal.  Still it saddens me that her life was so circumscribed because of it.  She deserved better.

2 thoughts on “Dorothy Bressler

  1. Thank you for this sensitive post about your great-aunt. My grandmother’s brother experienced almost the identical fate. He was a teacher, born in 1894, who taught in Lutheran schools in Nebraska for nearly 20 years before being hospitalized in the Norfolk State Hospital sometime in the late 1930s. He had epilepsy. He died in the hospital in 1955 at age 60. I only found out today how long he was in the hospital. Pictures from his youth show a happy, athletic young man. What a tragedy. Your great-aunt’s needlework is beautiful.

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