Clara May Dickerson, a longtime resident of Bolton and then Hudson, Mass., and who for more than 50 years also spent considerable time in Bryant Pond, Maine, passed away on Aug. 10 after a 12-year battle with cancer.
Clara May was born on June 4, 1935, the fourth of five children of Tom and Inez Riddle. She grew up in southern Indiana and later Michigan where she met and eventually married her high school sweetheart, Willard “Butch” Dickerson, Jr. After their first 11 years together living in the Boston area, she and her husband moved to Bolton at the end of 1968 with their three sons Willard Wilton III (“Jody”), Melvin Theodore (“Ted”), and Matthew Thomas.
For more than 20 years, she was a much beloved teacher at Emerson School in Bolton, with a special passion for inspiring and teaching children who had different learning styles. Having studied literature in college, she also loved teaching literature.
She had a passion for reading, and enjoyed poetry, as well as great works of fiction. Among her favorite authors were John Steinbeck and Chaim Potok. Shortly before her death, she was rereading The Grapes of Wrath. Her musical tastes ranged from opera to Bob Dylan. She was a storyteller, an avid player of Quiddler, and had a good sense of humor. She and Butch traveled extensively throughout the United States (including hiking the Grand Canyon), Canada, Europe (Norway, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Russia), Asia (notably Singapore and Japan), Costa Rica and Egypt.
Clara May was also known for her magnanimous hospitality. For more than five decades, international students from various colleges and universities in Boston were regular guests at her home, especially for Thanksgiving dinners. She was never one for building walls, preferring instead to welcome the refugee.
In 1980, she and her family welcomed into their home three Vietnamese teenagers: Anh Thu, Tuan, and Thanh, whom she soon considered part of her family. When these new family members later married, she loved their children as her own grandchildren. She loved to boast about her children, her grandchildren, and eventually her great-grandchildren, both biological and “adopted.” Her greatest love, however, was for Jesus. Since 1969, she was a committed member of Trinity Church in Bolton where she played numerous active roles over the years. All of her descendants knew that she prayed for them regularly.
Clara May Dickerson is survived by her husband and all her children, her daughters-in-law whom she loved as daughters, grandchildren, and three great-grandsons.