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Remembering “Dave’s Mom,” former WISH-TV employees share memories

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — David Letterman’s mom, Dorothy Mengering, a sweet woman who was unintentionally funny, died peacefully in her Carmel home Tuesday. “Dave’s Mom,” as she was affectionately referred to, became a constant on her son’s show. She also became a constant on WISH-TV.

WISH-TV started getting to know Mengering when the David Letterman Show started airing on WISH back in 1993. Letterman, who was located in New York, would have Mengering appear on the show remotely from her home. It was a time former WISH TV employees remember fondly.

Mengering made her first appearance on her son’s show in a Thanksgiving Day game called, “Guess Dave’s Mom’s Pies.” The routine was successful and “Dave’s Mom” soon became a household name.

For more than a decade, former WISH-TV Operations Manager Steve Sweitzer was part of the crew who made those satellite shots happen.

“Every Thanksgiving we would go out and we’d get there around noon. We’d do a rehearsal and then mom would go take a nap. Then, about 4-4:30, we would hook up live for the show,” said Sweitzer.

But, for Sweitzer, althogh he was working on a holiday, it never felt like work, “She was so much fun. We all liked each other. That’s what made it fun.”

Patty Spitler who worked for WISH-TV for more than two decades, and admittedly is culinarily challenged, got a cooking lesson from Mengering on TV. Mengering taught Spitler how to make fried bologna sandwiches; one of Dave’s favorites.

“At the end, I was like here it is Dorothy. How about that? She looked at me and smiled. I think, she felt sorry for me. She did give me a cookbook to take home,” Spitler laughed.

Mengering published her own cookbook. Spitler has an autographed copy. It wasn’t long before Spitler thought of Mengering, not just as somebody who she worked with, but as a friend.

“She’d call to see how I was. She was kind of like my mom there too a little. Because when I quit work over at WISH-TV, she was one of the first people to call me,” Spitler recalled.

A relatable mom, genuine, with a sweet smile, Dave’s mom felt more like everyone’s mom.

“I loved her as we all did. I promise, I’m going to learn how to cook Dorothy. I promise someday,” Spitler cried.

Mengering leaves behind three children, six grandchildren and a sister.

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