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Cowgirl, Cattle Woman, Community Volunteer
By Louisa Franklin
Woman’s Club of Cotulla
The Woman’s Club of Cotulla has nominated Dorothy Mangum Kinsel for the Jefferson Award this year. The awards for Laredo and surrounding areas, sponsored by the Laredo Morning Times, Laredo Area Community Foundation, and Jefferson Awards for public service, honor “Ordinary people who do extraordinary things for other people, our state and our nation.”
The award ceremony will be held in Laredo on March 31.
At 92, Dorothy Kinsel continues to amaze those who know her and those who meet her for the first time.
She was born in La Salle County on Christmas Day 1929. She and her sister often packed their lunches and rode horseback to visit neighbors several miles away. She felt very fortunate to have grown up ‘in the country’ where “children were never bored.”
Kinsel’s high school English teacher influenced her college choice and she attended Texas State College for Women beginning in 1947 (now Texas Woman’s University – TWU). This was at a time before TWU and Texas A&M were co-ed schools and in 1950, she was named Aggie Sweetheart. Having graduated in 1951, Dorothy has attended every Homecoming at TWU except two since that time. She has volunteered her time and talent to her alma mater throughout the years.
Soon after graduation she was elected as secretary to the National Alumni Association; then she served as president of NAA, 1984 -1986. Currently, she serves on the Board of the TWU Foundation.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the foundation worked to ensure international students were accommodated on campus, as many did not have the funds to fly home and take online classes. Another focus of the foundation has been to demolish old dorms and build living quarters for single mothers to be able to attend school, keep children with them and provide a safe environment for the children while mothers were in class.
In September 1951, she married her high school sweetheart, and ranching became her life, again. This was the time of the ‘seven-year drought,’ and it brought many hardships.
“My husband taught me so many things as well as gave me confidence,” she says. “He actually, in his heart, believed I could accomplish whatever needed to be done. He had a saying: ‘You’ll figure it out,’ when I would ask how was I to do a task he asked of me.”
Some instances where she ‘figured this out’ included picking up a complete stranger at an airport in Arizona, keeping watch over cattle train cars in Durango, Mexico and driving to Durango alone.
Shooting and hunting have always been favorite pastimes for Dorothy. She learned to shoot as a child from her father. She continues to keep the opening weekend of hunting season ‘open.’
Dorothy is a member of the Woman’s Club of Cotulla, which began in 1923. The organization meets once a month. Dorothy can usually be found there, giving worthwhile suggestions on programs and projects. She headed the ‘fingerprinting of kindergarten students’ project for many years. She is a member of the Historical Committee and has made sure that the history of the Club is proudly housed at her alma mater, TWU, where the archives of the Texas General Federation of Women’s Clubs reside.
She is always quick to welcome new members and invite new potential members to attend meetings. She has been awarded a 50-year membership pin.
Her church, First Baptist Church of Cotulla, is her main priority. She has served it well and continues to serve on the Repair and Maintenance Committee. A very great satisfaction in her life was helping to organize a Young Adult Class.
She also volunteers time to the South Texas Cattle Women, a group that she has held membership in since the 1970s. The group is committed to the beef industry and works with three children’s homes, Hill Country Youth Ranch at Ingram; South Texas Children’s Home near Beeville; and Sunny Glen Children’s Home in San Benito.
In addition, she has opened her home to children from the children’s homes when they had nowhere to go for their vacation. Through the organization, she has also been instrumental in raising funds for the Briscoe Museum in San Antonio.
She also serves on Cotulla’s Main Street Committee, which has been instrumental in many beautification projects to the downtown area of Cotulla. Her knowledge of the history of the older buildings in the area has been extremely beneficial. She continues to maintain an active role in many worthwhile organizations and activities.
How many can say, at any age, that they are as active as Dorothy? At 92, she has changed with the times – from riding horseback to neighbors’ houses to learning Zoom to be able to continue participating in TWU foundation meetings. From just talking about history, to making history with projects as a member of the Cotulla Main Street committee, she continues to amaze us all with her commitment to family, church and community.
She has shown us all how to live with grace.