Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, December 13, 2000
Dorothea K. Almond, campus child care pioneer, dies


Dorothea Kaufmann Almond, a longtime child and family advocate who was instrumental in establishing Stanford's first child care center in 1969, died Dec. 5 at Stanford Hospital from complications of a stroke. She was 86.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road.

"Dorothea brought energy and commitment to her passion for supporting children and their families at Stanford," said Kathleen Sullivan, director of the WorkLife Office. "She set a standard we all try to live up to. She continued to be active until the very end, and she will be missed."

Sullivan said it was ironic that Almond died just as the university's leadership announced last week a renewed commitment to supporting child care through its plans to build additional campus centers and to subsidize directly, for the first time, the cost of licensed child care for faculty and staff.

Margaret Ann Fidler, associate vice provost for administration, said that Almond anonymously funded the 1972 Leifer Report, which led to the university's original Child Care Policy.

In addition to her work on campus, Almond was active in civic affairs throughout her adult life. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and co-chaired a committee affiliated with the league on juvenile justice issues from 1988 to 1991. Most recently, she testified before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in October concerning Stanford's 10-year General Use Permit (GUP) to construct new academic facilities and housing.

"She was a valiant warrior, a real trouper," said Larry Horton, director of government and community relations. "We're very, very grateful for her many services." In addition to her support for the GUP, Horton said, Almond attended meetings on the expansion of Sand Hill Road and the university's plans to build a cancer center. In private, he said, she urged the university to do more to support child care. "It was an extraordinary pleasure and privilege to work with her," Horton said.

Almond had a "simple and profound sense of justice," said her husband, Gabriel A. Almond, professor emeritus of political science. "She wasn't a shouter, but she always followed through. She saw in the child, in the physical and mental health of the child, the ultimate answer to human problems. And she seemed to have gotten that not in formal education but in her first impressions."

Almond was born Maria Dorothea Kaufmann in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Her father, Otto Kaufmann, was the director of the German Bank in Constantinople before and during World War I. At the end of the war, Almond and her mother fled Turkey through eastern Europe in a retreating German troop train. She grew up in Cologne, Germany, and moved to the United States in 1934 to study at Teachers College, Columbia University. Almond returned briefly to Germany but the Nazis' rise to power forced her to leave for good. She earned a master's degree from Columbia in 1941.

Almond married her husband in 1937 and followed him as he moved to different cities on the East Coast. During that period, she taught at a nursery school in Brooklyn, N.Y., was an adviser on exceptional children to New Haven's school superintendent and was a counselor at the New Jersey Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. After the family moved to Palo Alto in 1963, she became director of the Bay Area Peninsula Children's Center.

At Stanford, Almond joined Phyllis Craig, wife of history Professor Gordon A. Craig, and other senior faculty wives to lead a movement in the late 1960s and '70s to provide affordable quality child care on campus.

"She was always writing letters asking for financial aid and looking for ways to get things going," says Phyllis Craig. "She was determined to get child care on campus. Our collaboration worked out very well."

Almond served as chair of the Committee on Childcare at Stanford from 1969 to 1977, was co-director of the Stanford Childcare Resource and Referral Center from 1978 to 1986, and was a consultant on child care to the dean of student affairs from 1979 to 1986. After Gabriel Almond retired in 1976, his colleagues established the Dorothea K. Almond Children's Library in honor of her work in child care. In 1998, in a ceremony honoring her, the collection was moved into a child-sized replica of Stanford's Red Barn at the Children's Center of the Stanford Community.

Almond also was interested in issues facing seniors and, in this capacity, helped introduce to the Bay Area the "Young and Old United" movement, which seeks to link child care and senior centers. The national group works to bring together understimulated children and lonely seniors.

"She wasn't interested in public recognition," said her son Peter Almond. "The important thing was getting the task accomplished. There was something in the culture of women of my mother's generation that they tended to view their roles first as wife and mother, naturally deflecting interest from themselves to their husband's and children's accomplishments." Almond's husband recognized his wife's work in the dedication of one of his books, where it states: "[Give her a share in what her hands have worked for] and let her own works praise her in the gates . . . " (Proverbs 31:31).

In addition to Gabriel of Palo Alto and Peter of Los Angeles, Almond is survived by her other children Richard and Susyn of Palo Alto, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Stanford Child Care Scholarship Fund, care of Stanford University Development Office Gift Processing, 301 Encina Hall, Stanford, CA 94305-6076. Checks should be marked in memory of Dorothea K. Almond.

Dorothea K. Almond