Debbie McFadden

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One of TV's Sweetest: Letterman's Mom Dead at 95

Letterman put his elderly mother from Indiana to work, and her bits were always funny and heartwarming.

Dorothy Mengering, a masterful pie-maker from a small town in Indiana who “covered” three Winter Olympics for her mischievous son, David Letterman, has died. She was 95. 

Mengering, who for years made regular appearances on Letterman’s Late Show before Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day, died Tuesday at her modest home in Carmel, Ind., according to a rep for the former late-night host. 

Seen via satellite from the kitchen of her modest home, Mengering was at her comic best for the feature “Guess Mom’s Pies,” in which Letterman had to pick which one of his many favorites she had lovingly prepared for the holidays.

Stephen Colbert, who took over for Letterman on The Late Show in 2015, tweeted out his condolences on Tuesday: "I'm so sorry to hear of Dorothy Mengering's death, and so grateful that Dave shared her with us."

Mengering published a 1996 cookbook, Home Cookin’ With Dave’s Mom. In it were recipes for “Dave’s Fried Baloney Sandwich,” “Jan’s Sauerkraut Balls” and “Gretchen’s Salad Dressing” — tributes to her son and two daughters — and instructions for how to make pies like blueberry, sour cherry, pecan molasses and chocolate chiffon.

The eldest of three children, Dorothy Hofert was born on July 18, 1921, in Linton, Ind. She studied at Indiana University, and in 1942, she married Harry Joseph Letterman, who had a florist shop. He died of a heart attack in 1973. (Dave’s son, Harry, is named after him.)

Ten years later, she wed Hans P. Mengering, a retired structural engineer for an Indianapolis architectural firm. The World War II veteran died in March 2013.

As Letterman, who turned 70 on Wednesday, prepared to retire from his longtime role as host in 2015, he aired a special Mother’s Day montage honoring Mengering. (Catch the clip, which includes a peek at Dave’s Mom’s beer-stocked fridge, below.)

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