By Sally King
Dorothy Whitfield, a resident of the Rosemoor community for more than 50 years, has passed at age 96. Whitfield was active in the Rosemoor community as a homeowner for decades until age and infirmity limited her activities.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Whitfield, affectionately called Lil’ Dot, was the only child of James and Rose Williams, born December 8, 1925. She relocated with her mother to Chicago following her father’s death when she was 10 years old.
Chicago soon became home for the young girl, as she quickly adapted to the rich offerings of the city. She attended local South Side public schools and made friends easily, showing early artistic and creative promise, and displaying talent as an artist and fashion designer.
After graduating from Englewood High School, Whitfield attended classes at the YWCA College in Chicago, which led to her career in public service. Forgoing the call of her creative spirit, Whitfield was drawn to the social services.
“My mother had a strong connection to those she considered disadvantaged,” according to daughter Rosalind Thompson. “She was always willing to go the extra mile for people who lacked resources, or the know-how to get things done.”
Whitfield expressed a specific desire to help the underserved African American community and throughout her life was employed in the social services, starting at Cook County Hospital, and later with the Illinois Department of Public Aid. She retired from the Illinois Department of Public Aid after 34 years.
Her career interaction with clients kept her aware of ongoing social issues and initiatives even after retirement. Notes longtime family friend Patricia Welch, “Throughout our friendship, her mind was always sharp and she enjoyed lively discussions of social issues and problems of the day. She kept abreast of politics into her 90s. Dorothy was an enthusiastic conversationalist, and those discussions invigorated her.”
The socially conscious Whitfield married Roy Whitfield in October, 1948. The duo became a quartet with the addition of son Roy Jr., and daughter Rosalind. The couple was married for 52 years before his death.
While Whitfield enjoyed being a homemaker and career woman, she had a circle of friends with whom she shared a love of the adrenaline-filled sport of skiing. As a world traveler with her Sno-Gophers Ski Club, she traversed the slopes of Europe in Austria, France and Spain, and made frequent trips to popular U.S. resorts in Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Each outing was an opportunity for Dorothy, the outgoing conversationalist, to enjoy friends and fun. She traveled extensively throughout the U.S., as well with her husband Roy, a member of the Chicago Bridge Club, when he participated in tournaments.
The zest for life was part of Whitfield’s longstanding philosophy. “Do all that you can, for as long as you can,” she frequently said.
Whitfield passed on June 23 following a lingering illness.
Both her husband and son preceded her in death. The matriarch of a large clan of grandchildren, she is survived by her daughter Rosalind Thompson of Riverdale; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are scheduled for Monday, July 11, with A.A. Rayner and Sons Funeral Home.