About Dorothy Rupe

Dorothy D. Rupe was born in Baxter, Tennessee on August 17, 1918 to William and Laura Montgomery. The family lived and worked on her grandparents’ farm until she was four months old. After her parents decided there was more opportunity in California, the family migrated to Los Angeles. When William Montgomery lost his job as a laborer and couldn’t find other work during the Great Depression, the family returned to the farm in Tennessee, feeling that they wouldn’t go hungry there.

A few years later, the Montgomerys returned to California and settled in Coalinga where William worked in the oil fields. After graduating from Coalinga High School with honors, Dorothy worked at City Hall until enlisting in the Navy during World War II. The Navy sent her to Hunter College in New York and Indiana University before assigning her to a high level position in San Francisco. After the war ended, she rejoined her family in El Monte, California and accepted a position as the city clerk. When her younger sister entered UCLA, Dorothy moved to West Hollywood so her sister could live with her.

Arthur Rupe met Dorothy in the late 1950’s, and the couple were married on February 15, 1960. Rupe recalls, “I was attracted to her because we shared many cultural, intellectual, and travel interests. The fact that she was a beautiful lady was icing on the cake.”

Dorothy became a highly skilled copyright executive in the music industry and was well respected by peers for her proficiency. She organized—and for ten years managed—Venice Music, Inc. which owned songs recorded by the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, the Rolling Stones, and other popular music stars of the period.

Dorothy was very compassionate and identified with children, the elderly, and animals. She believed in helping the weak and helpless. The only time Arthur ever witnessed Dorothy become really angry was when she observed a man jerking a leash and slapping his dog. Dorothy, who was by nature shy and always mannerly, rushed up to the man and scolded him: “How would you like somebody to jerk and slap you? You don’t deserve to own a dog.” The man looked sheepish, turned his back, and skulked away.

Dorothy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1983. In the early stages, Arthur would drive her to the Santa Barbara Courthouse, where she enjoyed listening to various trials—particularly the jury trials. One of the judges recognized her as a regular court watcher and would occasionally invite her in on the breaks for tea and cookies.

One day, Arthur received a call from a local ice cream store. Dorothy had told them that she was lost and didn’t remember where he was to pick her up. It was at that point he realized that Dorothy could no longer be left alone. At first he hired a day companion, but as her physical needs became more demanding and her memory faded dramatically, he hired Certified Nursing Assistants to provide round the clock care.

Dorothy died on September 5, 1994 in Arroyo Grande, California. The Dorothy Rupe Caregiver Program was established in her memory to address the continued need for qualified, compassionate direct care professionals to assist elders and their families, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.