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Celebrating Women's History Month with Waltonwood Resident Henrietta Dudek

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When I asked Henrietta about her first name, she told me that her parents had the name Henry picked out if the baby was a boy but hadn't thought yet of a girl's name. Well, when she came out, she became Henrietta.


Henrietta was born in 1929 into a family of intellectuals and scientists. Education was encouraged in her family, and in the 1940s she went to Temple University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree. She was one of only six women in her graduating major.


After college she began her career as a pharmacist, and she likes to tell the story of the tall, handsome, young man who came in shortly afterward for a prescription for his mother. After quite a bit of flirtation, she realized she had met the love of her life and married him in 1954. 


Henrietta was a full-time practicing pharmacist until she went part-time at 65. She continued "on call" until one month shy of her 73rd birthday. She worked in several states due to her husband's IBM job transfers. She found in each state she would have to retake the state medical board application to obtain her license to practice in that state. She likes to share that she became quite versed in taking medical exams.


While working full-time, she raised four beautiful children, three boys and one girl. With deep love in her eyes, she shared with me that her greatest accomplishments were seeing each of her four children excel in their chosen studies and go on to very successful careers.


When I asked her to reflect on her career, I asked her what she found most challenging. She thought about it a bit and said, "It was when the computer came out. I had to adapt and learn. It was like learning a brand new language and quite challenging." 


Luckily, her employer, CVS, gave her very adequate training. She did mention that, as she knew at the time, she had no choice but to accept the challenge and not resist the change which was inevitable.


When asked what she would say to younger women today, she said, "Be the role model your children need." Enough said.


In her later years, she became quite the world traveler. To date, she has gone on 35 cruises to exotic places like Hong Kong, the Baltic Sea, Turkey, and India. She speaks about the places she has visited as if these trips were just yesterday. While chatting, the vivid details in her memory of ports visited and her love of learning each culture captives you as you stare into her lovely steel blue eyes. 

- By Charlotte Healy
Life Enrichment Manager
Waltonwood Ashburn

 

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