Dorothy Hetrick Recognized as Honorary Flying Aggie
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
The Oklahoma State University Flying Aggies recognized Dorothy Kriter Hetrick as the first-ever honorary Flying Aggie during its 2018 Alumni Banquet. The award was created to celebrate those who have paved the way and who truly embody the spirit of OSU aviation.
Born in 1922 as a decedent of Oklahoma pioneers, Hetrick inherited her family’s spirit. Driven by hope and determination, she sought to learn, grow and make a better life for herself and others. She grew up on a farm just west of Blackwell, Oklahoma and learned the ways of the land, but also the ways of books, imagination and education.
The moment Hetrick fell in love with flying is forever etched in the history books. In February of 1937, Amelia Earhart landed in Blackwell during a trip from New York to California. Earhart was already world-famous at this time and when the community found out she would be landing in their town, the farmers and merchants gathered to catch a glimpse of this phenomenal pilot. In the crowd that day was 14 year old Hetrick, who was enamored with Earhart and her fantastic plane. However, no one could have imagined that six short months later Earhart’s plane would go down in the South Pacific, never to be found. But, Hetrick never gave up her dream for flying. The experience that day made a lasting impact and fueled her passion for aviation.
When she graduated from high school in 1939, Hetrick moved to Tonkawa, Oklahoma and enrolled at Northern Oklahoma Junior College where she followed her mother’s footsteps, pursuing a career in education. It was during this time that she began dating a gentleman who was a pilot and flight instructor. He took Hetrick up on numerous flights, and her love for flying grew even more. He taught her how to fly, and she excelled. Not only were few people flying those days, but even fewer females were flying. She was certainly a woman ahead of her time. Throughout her life, Hetrick effortlessly weaved her passion for education with her love for aviation.
Hetrick was forced to leave college after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 to support the war efforts and her future husband, Chuck who had enlisted in the Marine Corps. Following his discharge in 1946, the married couple enrolled at Oklahoma State University to complete their degrees in education and initiate their lifelong careers in teaching and coaching. In 1961, Hetrick received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from OSU.
Hetrick believed in being a “forever student” and completed her Master’s Degree in Education from OSU in 1963. Following many years of teaching in the classroom, she moved into the role of principal at Washington Elementary School in Blackwell. At that time, she was one of a few female principals in Oklahoma.
Hetrick’s teaching and administrative career spanned 37 years. She was honored as Blackwell’s Teacher of the Year at Teacher Recognition Day in Oklahoma City and served as president of the Blackwell Teacher’s Organization. Those she encountered described her as a “teacher’s teacher.”
Dorothy Kriter Hetrick is a woman who knows how to fly—in airplanes and in life. She is a pioneer, pilot, entrepreneur, teacher, principal, OSU supporter and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt. She is a woman of beauty, strength, grace, gentility, generosity, intelligence, tenacity, fortitude and humility. Hetrick has passed on her passion for education to her students, children, colleagues and community. She represents the evolution of education in our state and the growth of opportunities for women. At age 95, she epitomizes the values of the Flying Aggies, and the organization proudly embraces Hetrick as a member of the team.
Each year, the Flying Aggies host the Alumni Banquet to help raise funds to attend regional and national competitions. The Flight Team will compete in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) SAFECON National Competition in Terre Haute, Indiana on April 30, 2018. For more information on the Flying Aggies, please visit https://www.flyingaggies.com/.