Former Purdue University professor Mary Ellen Stepanich has written her first book, D is for Dysfunctional and Doo Wop.
In the memoir that came out in late June, Stepanich discusses her life and the mistakes both she and people around her have made. She also shares the fun that came with those mistakes and the joy she has for singing doo wop songs with her quartet who are featured on the front cover of the book.
Born in the 1940s in a small town in Gibson County, Stepanich said her parents suffered the Great Depression, where the economy was awful and the philosophy on prosperity was no good. After World War II there was more money, more work; things were looking up.
“The people growing up in that decade became undecided people because of the two philosophies that were going on,” she said. “This decade attributed to my personality and how I grew up and made my mistakes.”
Stepanich said children growing up in the 1940s were to be seen and not heard in school. She explains this with an example in her book of when she was a student pursuing her doctorate at Purdue.
“I never talked in class because my voice was suppressed by teachers and family when I was growing up,” she said. “In order to get an A in the class I had to speak up, and I finally did.”
Hopefully, she said, readers will get life lessons from her book. It includes lessons she learned from her childhood, potential and actual careers, four marriages, divorce, how to be a widow, and living alone and liking it.
After graduating from Indiana State University, she left for Chicago to start a career. Her dream was to become a professional singer.
“I love music,” she said. “Music saved me from being a nobody; I’ve had music in my life since the first grade.”