GREAT FALLS — Most people in their 90’s are well into their retirement years, but for one well-traveled Great Falls native, she’s been busy at her keyboard writing books.
Dorothy Wilson now lives in Florida woman and is literally living a literary life.
Dorothy carries an atlas that documents nearly a century of living. A life as a banker, military spouse and civil servant eventually turned the page to a pursuit of a lifelong passion.
“I never had dreams of being an author,” said the 94-year-old Wilson. “All my life in grade school, I got introduced to poetry and then later in high school and later in my young life, I started writing short stories and all I ever wrote was short stories.
At the age of 86, she penned “The Green Tunnel”, a murder mystery set in Great Falls that follows Blackfeet native GFPD officer Travis Eagle as he tacks down a serial killer.
“In so many books, the male detective is a macho man,” said Wilson. “So I wanted to make the main character a Blackfeet Indian. Later, after I wrote the book, I found out there was actually a Blackfeet Indian man on the police force here in town.”
Wilson said she likes setting here books in Montana because she knows the area from growing up in the Treasure State and she likes doing her research here.
She said unlike many authors she began writing without a plot, but the story just flowed. She added twists at the ending and was pleased with the reviews, even getting a thumbs up from an actual Great Falls police detective.
Her second offering, which she wrote at the age of 90, hits closer to home.
“My mother had such an extraordinary life. She told me stories all my life about her childhood,” said Wilson. “I got to thinking about it, and I said, that would make a great book.”
“One Life One Century” chronicles the life and times of Bertie Moore.
“Her name was Albertine Rosaline Cawiter, and she hated the name with a passion,” said Wilson.
Wilson said her parents tried calling her Bertha but she didn’t like that either. When farmhands stared calling her Bert, the name stuck.
The book details the family’s journey from moving to America from Germany, to growing up in Big Sandy, even to meeting Charlie Russell who wanted to hear her stories of trading with Native Americans.
“While she's telling him, he's sketching away on his pad,” said Wilson. “When he got done, he handed her a picture of a horse and she said, ‘Oh, that's a nice horse.’ So she went home and the next time they came back to visit Charlie, she handed him a sketch of a horse. She said, “See, I can draw too.”
Dorothy says her mom was a feminist, working on the farm for half the pay of men, and eventually doing odd jobs in Great Falls to help support the family back home. She had a knack for calling square dances which finally paid off.
“She volunteered for 11 years before she got so popular that they had to hire her,” said Wilson “then she started calling. She was quite well-known in the forties.”
Wilson says she would often accompany her mother at dances when her father was working and recalls dancing with her grandfather.
The book also talks about surviving the Great Depression, Bertie’s psychic ability and more.
Both books are available through Amazon. They can also be purchased at Enlightening Minds Mental Health and Addiction Counseling at 800 7th Avenue North in Great Falls, where Wilson’s niece is a counselor.
A third book, a sequel to “The Green Tunnel” is in the works.
“The third one I'm trying to write now, I have hit horrible writer's block, so it's still in the process,” said Wilson.
Judging from Dorothy’s tenacity, it’s most likely just a minor detour on her literary journey.