Arline Dieterich Celebrates 100th Birthday at University of Dubuque

Dec 17, 2018 | Stacey Ortman, University Relations

Arline Birthday
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Arline Dieterich (C’41) celebrated her 100th birthday at her alma mater on Nov. 30 with family, friends, former students, a police officer, a physician, and the president of University of Dubuque.

“It was great to be able to celebrate with Arline and her friends. What a wonderful opportunity to gather together and to give thanks for a life well lived,” said UD President Jeffrey Bullock.

Dieterich greeted her guests in the Charles and Romona Myers Center with the exuberance of a young girl. She made each person feel special with a hug and quick chat.

“There was no way I was going to miss this. I have no doubt Arline will live to 110. She’s lived a really good life,” said Scott Baxter, a captain with the Dubuque Police Department.

Their unlikely friendship began several years ago when Baxter met with Dieterich to discuss a security assessment after her home was burglarized.

“We’ve just kept in the touch over the years. I have so much respect for her. She’s always been so kind to me and the police department,” Baxter said.

Mixed among the birthday guests were some of Dieterich’s former students. She taught music at Fulton Elementary School many years ago.

“I came to honor her as my teacher,” said Christel Krolick.

Dan VanCleve, Janice Smith, Wes Eller, and Gary Thomas were in the same elementary school class at Fulton. They were overjoyed to celebrate their former teacher’s birthday.

“How many people out there can say they’re going to their fourth-grade teacher’s 100th birthday,” VanCleve asked.

Smith described her beloved teacher as “everybody’s favorite teacher.” The others agreed.

“Everything she taught us she did with discipline and love,” Eller said, adding. “All I can tell you is I hope her next 100 years are as good as her past 100 years.”

Dieterich not only taught the four former classmates, but she also taught Smith’s mother and Thomas’s mother and children. She also taught VanCleve’s brother, Dennis, who also attend the party.

“You seem to remember the names of the really great teachers. She’s known,” said Dennis VanCleve.

Barbara Smeltzer (C’66), campus mom and undergraduate student resources advisor at UD, once lived in the same neighborhood as Dieterich and has many fond memories of her former neighbor.

“She’s had a good life. Arline did a lot for people, with people,” Smeltzer said.

One of those people is Barb Blinks (C’64), a friend and member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international society of women educators that Dieterich has been involved with for more than 70 years.

“It’s great to be part of such a beautiful celebration,” Blinks said.

Even Dieterich’s former physician, Dr. John Viner, surprised her at the birthday celebration.

“I remember going to her 80th birthday party,” he said.

Dieterich's secret to a long life? Faith.

“Don’t you know there is a God? I did nothing. It was all the Lord’s doing,” she said, adding. “I have never felt alone.”