Obituary for Dorothea Helen Howard (Williams)
For Dot, life was truly a cabaret. Her motto was to live well, love hard, and laugh often.
Dorothea Helen was born in Norfolk on May 7, 1917. She was the first child born in the union of Margaret Clayton and Clarence Edward Williams.
“Dot” as she was known by most, attended Norfolk public schools and after graduation from Booker T Washington was recruited into the first class in what is now Norfolk State University (then called “The Unit”). At that time the tuition was $5.00 a quarter, which she said her grandmother paid. She left Norfolk State and completed her degree in education at Elizabeth City College.
Upon graduation Dot began her career teaching in both Southampton County and Norfolk County. Deciding teaching was not for her, Dot enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) and was stationed in Walla Walla Washington (though she thought she was going to Washington DC). During her time in the WACs she was courted by James “Bernard” Howard. They eventually married and after his discharge from the military after WWII they returned to Norfolk to make their home. Though there were no biological children born of this marriage she raised one niece from birth and was integral in helping to raise her other nieces and nephews.
Dot transitioned through several careers and was ultimately hired as a fiscal analyst, becoming the first black professional hired at the Norfolk Naval Air Station; retiring from there in 1988.
Dot was a faithful member of Grace Episcopal Church since she was in her twenties. At Grace she was a part of the Senior Choir, the Joy Seekers, the Episcopal Church Women, and the St Monica Guild. Dot was also active in many other organizations to include the Norfolk Chapter Pinochle Bugs, the Felicitas and the Gabs. The one she loved best was the Krazy Kats, a group formed by her and her high school friends.
Dot loved to dance and kept up with the latest line dances until her health prevented her from continuing to participate. Her dance group, Seniors In Motion, nicknamed her “The Diva”
Dot was predeceased by Bernard her husband of over 50 years, her two sisters Katherine “Katie” and Margaret and step-brother Vance. She leaves to mourn her passing a niece Dorothea Cash who has been her companion/caretaker for the past 5 years; a sister Clarice Sharp; sister in-law Mabel Howard; brother in-law Vernon Howard (Valetta); two nieces Patricia Redd-Demps and Delores Redd; two nephews Donald Redd and Darryl Foster (Karyn); plus a host of other great nieces and great nephews, as well as lifelong and “new” friends.
Dot’s wish was for a graveside service at Calvary Cemetery after which all should celebrate her life by living theirs to the fullest.