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Dexheimer, Florence Chambers, 1866-1925 / Sketches of Wisconsin pioneer women
([1924?] )

Harriet Dean Sterling,   pp. 175-177 PDF (588.7 KB)


Page 176


    "Mrs. Sterling may fairly be called the Mother of
the University. She was the first woman in the faculty;
for, as help-meet to the dearly beloved Prof. John of the
old boys, she was truly of the faculty that governed, and
was paid student worship, though not instructing. Al-
ways, during all the dark days-and for years but rarely
and briefly the sun broke through-the good professor
and this excellent woman, his wife, were the strong stays
and examples of courage, devotion, serene constancy and
good promise."
    In the early days of the University, the families of
the three professors lived in the old south dormitory,
now known as South Hall. They occupied apartments
in the three upper stories,respectively.  The arrange-
ment was that they should have a dining room in com-
mon on the first floor, and that the wives of the profes-
sors should take turns in managing the boarding depart-
ment. As it turned out, however, it all devolved upon
Mrs. Sterling and for several years she managed and
presided over the community dining room.
    The students of those early days, when faculty and
students came into such close contact, were dear to her
heart and "her sympathy, motherly nature, bright active
mind, buoyant spirit and fun-loving disposition won her
a warm place in the hearts of the students. One in speak-
ing of her sayings: "I can never forget how much the
classes of '63 and '64 adored Mrs. Sterling.' Her whole
heart and mind were centered on the University and
its students. Young men of scant means were boarded in
her family for a meagre sum or were given their meals,
and her sympathy and help went out to all in need of
them."
    Notwithstanding her devotion to the University and
the students and the time it demanded of her, she never
neglected her family, but was a devoted mother.
    She had eight children, five of whom died in infancy,
three survive her.
    Mrs. Sterling was a staunch Presbyterian, one of
the charter members of Christ Presbyterian Church,
                         176


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