Retired teacher leaves $1.5 million to Manchester University

Jul 10, 2023, 09:04 AM by Anne Gregory
A close friend described Alice R. Dentler as an “old-school” teacher with a giving spirit who shared her love of poetry with her students. Because she grew up poor, Dentler liked to work with children who had their own struggles. Dentler made this bequest to Manchester because her years here had been the best time of her life.

A retired Elkhart County schoolteacher gave $1.5 million dollars to Manchester University, the bulk of it via a bequest to her alma mater.

“Receiving an unexpected and unrestricted realized bequest is always an exciting day in the office. We are overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Melanie Harmon, MU vice president for advancement.

Alice Dentler Manchester CollegeAlice R. Dentler died Jan. 1, 2023, at the age of 95.

She was an elementary schoolteacher for at least 30 years in Elkhart Community Schools, according to information gathered by the Elkhart County Historical Museum. Records indicate she worked much of that time at Samuel Strong School.

A close friend described Dentler as an “old-school” teacher with a giving spirit who shared her love of poetry with her students and played games with them outside, even in winter. Because Dentler grew up poor, she liked to work with children who had their own struggles.

“I know that she paid fees for some students so that they could do school activities,” her friend said.

She said Dentler made the bequest because her time at Manchester were the best years of her life.

“Alice Dentler was a hero, a quiet hero. She was a regular contributor to Manchester over the years, but she never let on that she planned such a large bequest,” Harmon said.

Alice Dentler high school Courtesy Elkhart County Historical MuseumA 1946 graduate of Bristol High School in Elkhart County, Dentler grew up in Mottville, Michigan, just north of the Indiana state line, according to genealogy records found by the museum. In her one year at the Indiana high school, Dentler was a member of the Girls Athletic Association and a copy editor for the school newspaper. She must have expressed a desire to teach even then because her class prophesy was that in 10 years, she would be teaching first grade.

Right after high school, Dentler lived in Elkhart and worked as a clerk at Miles Laboratories, according to the museum.

She graduated from what was then Manchester College in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. By 1955, records show, she had begun teaching at Samuel Strong. The museum records indicatate she continued to teach for Elkhart Community Schools until she retired in 1985.

“Manchester graduates make connections for life and work to make the world a better place,” said Manchester President Stacy Young. “Alice Dentler’s legacy will live on in generations to come. I wish we could have thanked her in person.”

For the media

Melanie Harmon can be reached at

How do you give to Manchester? Learn more. 

Manchester University thanks Michelle Nash, curator of collections at the Elkhart County Historical Museum, for aid in researching and collecting information about the late Alice R. Dentler.

The top photo is a class photo of Alice Dentler from the Aurora, Manchester's yearbook.
The second photo is a senior class picture of Alice Dentler from the Bristol High School yearbook, courtesy of the Elkhart County Historical Museum.

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