INDIANAPOLIS — David Letterman remembered his mother, Dorothy Mengering, as a hard-working woman Saturday who was tough enough to kill a snake and whose television appearances rivaled his own in popularity.
The comedian told dozens of mourners at a memorial service that after she spotted a threatening-looking snake in her Indianapolis garden, she calmly grabbed a hoe and hacked off its head, The Indianapolis Star reported.
“My mother is Grizzly Adams, for God’s sake,” Letterman said at the service at Second Presbyterian Church on the city’s north side.
Mengering, who was 95, died at her Carmel home on Tuesday. She became an unlikely celebrity in her 70s, baking mystery pies and covering the Winter Olympics for her son’s “Late Show” on CBS.
Letterman remembered executives telling him: “We should have your mother on the show all the time.
“No, we’re serious,” Letterman recalled them saying. “People like her better than you.”
The comedian attributed his work ethic to his mother, describing her as constantly busy, whether it be growing fresh vegetables or waxing the floors on her hands and knees.
“We didn’t want for anything because of my mom,” he said.
Mengering lived all her life in Indiana. She married Letterman’s father, a florist named Harry Letterman, in 1942. He died in 1973, and she later married structural engineer Hans P. Mengering, who died in 2013.
Mengering is also survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.