Dorothy T. Dravis Dzigurski

Dorothy was born in Grand Junction, Colorado as the eighth of ten children to George John Dravis, a car inspector for the railroads, and Mary Elizabeth Dravis. Both were emigrants from Czechoslovakia. "My father was very stern and a hard worker and my mother was more musical and loved the finer things in life," she recalls. The Depression was difficult for the family. For a while her older brother ran a paper route, earning ten dollars a month. "That's what we lived on, the whole family," she recalls. The family also worked as farm laborers, picking hops and apples to earn a living. When she was eight, they moved to Sacramento, where her father farmed. Their neighbor, a Japanese family, was re-settled in an internment camp in World War II. "They came across and gave us their dog and we were so sorry to see them go. We didn't see any harm in them, but they were Japanese," she remembers. Meanwhile, Dorothy helped with chores, such as scrubbing clothes and cooking on a wood-burning stove. She also worked at a soda fountain. Meanwhile, all of her brothers except one were serving in the armed forces. A teenager during World War II, Dorothy attended socials at the USO where she danced with sailors and marines. After graduating from St. Francis High School in 1945, she worked three years as a dental assistant. On a two-week vacation to Honolulu, she enjoyed the city so much she turned in her return ticket and remained there for three years, working as a doctor's assistant. Returning to America in 1956 she entered nurse training at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco. Upon graduating in 1959 she worked at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento in delivery. Later, she enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, while working as a nurse at Barnes Hospital. Dorothy completed her degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She served as head nurse at the VA Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, but became homesick, and transferred to the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California as a staff nurse. There, Dorothy joined an art club and began painting in acrylic. Soon she met Alexander Dzigurski, a widower and an artist who had come to America in "1948 or 1949" from his native Serbia. They married in 1968. (They would have one son and two grandchildren.) "I feel so gifted that he was brought into my life, truly," she remarks. Often, as he painted along the seashore, she sketched outdoors. The couple traveled extensively. Dzigurski painted while Dorothy helped him sell his work. They held an exhibit each spring and fall, then in summer traveled for him to paint new works. "We did that for years, all the years that we were married," she comments. They also visited and worked in Europe. The couple settled in Mountain View, California as their home and base of operations. The most her husband ever received for a painting, Dorothy says, was $18,000 for Sea to Shining Sea. It was sold in sets of eight prints in association with the American bicentennial. Meanwhile, Dorothy served as his secretary while continuing to paint, usually flowers. R.W. Norton Art Gallery held the first museum exhibition of Dzigurski's work in 1972. Dzigurski passed away on November 21, 1995. The Norton again held an exhibition of his work in 2010.