In Honor of Dolores Eatonby Representative Charles B. Rangel
Posted on 2016-01-06
of new york
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the life, legacy,
and work of Dolores Eaton; who was a well known resident of Harlem.
Dolores was not only a beloved Mother and Grandmother but she was also
an artist, activist, and a longtime community figure.
It is well known to those in good spirit that sunrises are filled with color and beauty; they light up and bring warmth to the land. There cannot be a more accurate description of Dolores Eaton that captures the life she lived.
Dolores was born in Harlem, New York to Mrs. Rovena Hodge and Edward Rubin. Dolores, who was an only child, was raised with her two first cousins Mattie and Madeline and was lovingly nurtured by her Aunt Naomi and Cousin Lottie. True to the old custom of Black Families who supported their transitioning family members from the south to the north; they all lived together in Harlem. The family roots hailed from Sumter, South Carolina, which is not only the birthplace of this magnificent family but is also unfortunately known as the home of the Ku Klux Klan, and where the Civil War began.
Dolores was baptized at Mount Zion Lutheran Church under the leadership of the founders, Pastor and Mrs. Clemonce Sabourin. She also attended the church's famous School on the Hill, which sits across from the historic Convent Avenue Baptist Church. After graduating from elementary school, Dolores was accepted into the then prestigious George Washington High School. There Dolores studied dance, drama and the cello. In 1955, Dolores joined the Penthouse Dance and Drama Theater, located at 21 West 145th Street, which at the time was under the leadership of Sheldon B. Hoskins, to follow her dream to pursue a career in theater.
Dolores was smitten by a tall handsome man, Donald H. Eaton, Jr., mechanical engineer. They were married in 1957 at Mount Zion Lutheran Church. Their beautiful wedding was catered by the famous Katz's delicatessen. They began to raise their family at the Colonial Park Houses, now known as the Ralph J. Rangel Houses. The Eaton's became very well known in Harlem and beyond. The couple gave birth to Donald H. Eaton, III in 1957 and then to Geoffrey Eric Eaton in 1958.
After Geoffrey was born, Dolores began her own career at Mutual of New York Life Insurance (MONY) in mid-town Manhattan. Dolores was not only very smart but a truly beautiful woman as well, and so she also began a career in modeling. Dolores's beloved mother, Rovena was a seamstress at a coat factory on Delancey Street. Rovena was a gifted artist with a pair of scissors, a threaded needle and sewing machine. She hand-made all of Dolores's attractive business suits and attire. Dolores was easily always the apple in every man's eyes.
As you can imagine, raising two active boys was no easy task, especially during the early days of the Black Revolution up North and the Civil Rights Movement down South. But, nonetheless, Dolores's perseverance, dedication, and strong maternal instincts gave well deserved success: her eldest son Donald is an outstanding musician, a tenured percussion teacher at the renowned Harlem School of the Arts, a member of The Last Poets, arranger and composer for Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theatre of Harlem and Yoruba philosopher. Her youngest son Geoffrey is my top aide, President of the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, and chair of the Uptown Dance Academy, while serving on the executive board of Harlem Arts Alliance.
After retiring from MONY, Dolores served as district director for the late Harlem Assemblywoman, the Honorable Geraldine Daniels; where she worked hard to help to make history by electing the first African American Mayor of New York City, the Honorable David Dinkins. In 1990 she helped to make history again, by working hard to bring South Africa's first black president, Hon. Nelson Mandela to African Square on W. 125th Street during HARLEM WEEK. In 1994 she joined the staff of the first elected public advocate, the Honorable Mark Green. Dolores continued to serve public advocate Green, and public advocate Betsy Gotbaum as Director of Ombudsman Services until Dee's retirement in 2009. Dolores served as vice president of the Harlem Canaan House Tenant's Association, where, along with her son, Geoffrey and Cristal Johnson she advocated for and worked with management and it's residents to keep the building affordable and functioning at the [[Page E11]] highest level for all residents. She was a fierce fighter, brilliant advocate and hero to all of the tenants.
Dolores also volunteered her services to support the political goals, missions and aspirations of Honorable Lloyd E. Dickens, NYS Assemblyman and business icon, Honorable Basil A. Paterson, NYS Senator and NY State Secretary of State and she was to the end also a strong supporter of NYS Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright.
What many may not know about Dolores, was that she was a founding member of an elite group of activists--Blackfrica Promotions, a group, which was formed under the leadership of the late and great Percy E. Sutton alongside Lloyd Williams, Joseph Roberts, Marvin Kelly, Larry Frasier, Tony Rogers, Stephanie Francis, Voza Rivers, Jacques DeGraff, Gilbert Paschall, III, Andy Reddick, DiAnne Henderson and her very best friend and sister, Grace Williams. This group was the foundation for HARLEM WEEK and went a long way to reverse the negative trend and images that Harlem had in the early 70s, 80s, and 90s. One of Dolores favorite Blackfrica quotes was ``Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process begins.'' Dolores was also a founding charter member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Democratic Club, where she worked diligently for the elections of H. Carl McCall for State Senate, David N. Dinkins for Manhattan Borough President and Percy E. Sutton for Mayor.
Dolores truly loved to travel and had great fun on her numerous trips, with her family and the members of Blackfrica Promotions, visited Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Canada, Brazil, Latin & South America and many states and cities throughout the USA.
Dolores leaves to mourn her beloved sons, Donald and Geoffrey; her daughter Allyson; her beloved grandsons Geoffrey, Jr. and Geoffrey, III; her nephew Russell Eaton Jr.; daughters-in-law, Melanie, Cheryl and Reiko; her matriarch cousins Eleanor Holmes and Lulu Scott; first cousins Madeline Williams, Michael, Ginger, Laura Ceasar, William and Craig Spooner, Edward, Mark, Jessica Hodge, Iris Mack, Cathy and Thomasina Holmes and Otis Cruse; a host of cousins that hail from the north, the south and the west coast too numerous to name; many more family members; a host of dear friends, neighbors, Donald Eaton, Sr., the father of her sons, and many beautiful memories.
Dee now joins with John ``Smitty'' Smith, her longtime companion who preceded her in death.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that you and my distinguished colleagues join me in recognizing Dolores Eaton, Sunsets always bring the night and new lights arise with the stars--with this comes new beginnings and we know that this mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend, Dolores Eaton, is up there as one of the new and brightest stars in the sky.