In memoriam: Helen Ditlow

So sad to learn of the passing of Helen Ditlow, co-founder of Listening Library with husband Anthony in 1955, a true audiobook pioneer & 2005 Audio Publishers Association Lifetime Acheivement Award-winner. Condolences to son Tim Ditlow & the rest of her family. Here is her complete obituary:

Helen Peterson Ditlow
Born in Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 17, 1921 and Departed on Jun. 26, 2014

Service: Saturday, Jul. 19, 2014 2:00 pm

SAVANNAH – Helen Peterson Ditlow, cherished mother and grandmother, passed away peacefully at her home on June 26, 2014. She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 36 years Anthony Ditlow.
She was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 17, 1921 to William E. and Mary Masek Peterson. Following graduation from Iowa State University, she joined Armour & Company’s research and development lab. At Armour & Co. she met Anthony Ditlow, who worked in the sales division and they quickly started a courtship and married in 1954. Several years after their marriage, the couple moved to Connecticut with their two young children.
When an inflammation of the optic nerves left Anthony blind in 1955, Helen became the family manager and all-around cheerleader. Turning to the Library of Congress’s Recordings for the Blind to satisfy a shared love of literature, the couple realized that sighted people also enjoyed a good audio-story. In 1955 they launched Listening Library, which became America’s preeminent publisher of unabridged children’s audiobooks. While her husband directed recording sessions and marketed the audiobooks, she designed album jackets, packed and shipped records, and kept the books. The first title was Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. In an interview with AudioFile magazine celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, Helen recalled: “It was uncanny, because that was the year the movie version with David Niven came out. Our recording just took off.”
In 1986, attracted by Savannah’s beauty and culture, Helen and Tony decided to retire to The Landings. Instead of relaxing into retirement, Helen found new outlets for her energy. She became more involved with the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a membership philanthropy that supports women’s education and professional advancement, and raised funds for P.E.O.’s Cottey College. Long a collector of antique furniture, she became a docent for Savannah’s Andrew Low House museum. She also volunteered at the Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church. Later, when she moved to The Marshes, she arranged the flowers for the community area and indulged her passion for bridge several times a week. For all of her multiple accomplishments, she was most proud of her children and grandchildren.
Helen Ditlow is survived by her sister Florence Larson of Eden Prairie, Minnesota; son Tim (Melissa) of Westport, Connecticut and his children Matthew (Lynette) and Henry Ditlow; and daughter Michele Ditlow-Roache of Charlotte, North Carolina and her children Kenton, Kaitlin, and Corbin Roache. The family expresses gratitude for the love and care of Dr. Pugh and his staff, everyone at The Marshes, especially the support of the nursing assistants who allowed her to remain in her home surrounded by her family and memories of a life well lived.
The service will be held at Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church on Saturday, July 19th, at 2:00.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen P. Ditlow’s name to Cottey College, 1000 W. Austin, Nevada, MO 64772 or the Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church, 50 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, GA 31411.

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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

1 Comment on "In memoriam: Helen Ditlow"

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  1. priva@intltrans.com' Peter Riva says:

    If you could, please pass my personal condolences on to Tim. We’ve lost contact, sadly.

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