Dorothy Holman, a Morristown community activist known to friends as Dimples, will be laid to rest this week.
Holman died on April 27, 2019, at Morristown Medical Center after a long illness. She was 68.
A wake is scheduled for this evening, Tuesday, May 7, from 7 to 9 o’clock at Calvary Baptist Church. A memorial service is set for noon Wednesday at the church on 10 Martin Luther King Ave., in the the Second Ward where Holman was well known for years of volunteer work.
Mayor Tim Dougherty paid an emotional tribute to Holman at the most recent town council meeting
“I wouldn’t be here without her,” Dougherty said, crediting Holman, who is African American, with teaching him about diversity in his first unsuccessful campaign for council.
“I think I came in seventh,” Dougherty said. Wearing a tie he said was a Christmas gift from Holman, he choked up as he spoke. “Dorothy took the time to walk me door to door, in areas where no one ever heard of me, or knew me and didn’t like me.
“I got my first understanding of how important it is to understand the diversity of our community. And how important it is, if you’re going to serve this community, to recognize the diversity and be active in the diversity. And that’s something she taught me.”
In addition to serving as a Second Ward committeewoman, Holman was a member of the Morris County Democratic Committee, a volunteer on the town’s Community Emergency Response Team, a member of the group Controlling Our Destiny, and a board member of Our Youth Their Future, a nonprofit co-founded by her daughter, Morristown Council President Toshiba Foster.
Holman most visible role was commissioner during a turbulent period on the Morristown Housing Authority. The MHA plans to establish a scholarship to honor Holman, who stepped down in 2017, said Maureen Denman, authority chairwoman.
“She taught me to speak the truth regardless of how many people didn’t want to hear it,” Denman said. “She always advocated for those less fortunate…she was a great example of someone who took care of others. There was nobody more loyal than her.”
Despite her cute nickname, bestowed by her grandmother, and a slight frame, Holman was tough–she survived a double lung transplant–and fiery when defending her beliefs.
When a new housing authority director (since deceased) launched a probe, Holman denounced it as a “witch hunt,” and even took on the mayor’s wife, a fellow commissioner at the time. Nothing ever came of the investigation.
“She was no shrinking violet,” said former authority commissioner Frank Vitolo. “Dorothy and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. But I do respect her passion, and all the work she did for her community… She was a force to be reckoned with.”
Foster said she admired her mother’s steadfast faith and devotion to her family.
“Family meant everything to her,” said Foster, who considered Holman her best friend. “She had the heart of gold! Anything she could do for you, she would.”
A member of the Union Baptist Church, Holman never lost faith even when her health failed.
“God gave her strength to get through some of the most difficult times in her life and she fought hard up until he called her home,” Foster said.
“Some days I would watch her experiencing so much pain and even then she wouldn’t complain, instead she would call on the Lord. I hope she passed on to my kids to love family, be strong, courageous, loving, caring and kind, so they can continue to make her proud.”
Dorothy Holman was born on Jan. 27, 1951, to the late Inez Harris McCoy and William Bolden in Tuscaloosa, AL.
She graduated from Morristown High School, Class of 1969, and worked for Panson Electronics and Bellcore /Telcordia until her retirement. She enjoyed traveling and dancing, and was an advocate for organ donations.
In addition to her parents, Holman is predeceased by her brother, Danny McCoy, and her special aunt, Stella Mahan. She is survived by daughters Toshiba Foster of Morristown and Shaquita Holman of Bethlehem, PA; and her son, Danny Blackwell.
She also is survived by grandchildren Nikiyah Foster, JaQuan Holman, Derinda Young, A’Kaysia Holman, Ronald Young, Jahre Holman, Kyla Diaz and Reason Rocker, and by great granddaughter Camille Young. And also, by brothers Roger Holman (Carol) and Will B. Harris, Charlie A. Smith, Shirley Bolden and Cynthia Bolden; and special aunt Lillie Harris; and a host of cherished aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.