Flags at municipal buildings in New Bedford will fly at half staff through Wednesday in honor of Margery "Ruby" Dottin, who passed away last Thursday, two days after celebrating her 98th birthday.

Dottin served on the New Bedford School Committee from 1976 until her retirement in 1997. She was the first person of color elected to serve on the school committee, and she did so with distinction.

A Standard-Times article from 1997 notes that Dottin was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and earned a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She had two children and several grandchildren. The paper says Dottin's first husband, Lt. Reginald Wilder, was killed in action during World War II. Her second husband, the late Duncan A. Dottin, was himself "a renowned educator and civic leader," according to the S-T. The Duncan Dottin public housing complex in the city's North End was named for him.

For 16 years, Ruby Dottin ran the Upward Bound program at UMass Dartmouth and was an advocate for many causes including education and the elderly over many years.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell issued the following statement about the passing of Margery "Ruby" Dottin:

"More than anything else, Ruby’s public service was driven by a deep commitment to widening the doors of opportunity for the City’s school children. She will be remembered most for her own distinguished career as an educator, her trailblazing in the City’s political life, and her dedication to the proposition that all children are capable of learning."

I remember Mrs. Dottin during my years as a cub reporter for a local radio station more than 40 years ago. She was as kind and as patient as could be in helping me to understand and report on the complex issues of education locally at that time. Ruby Dottin was a vital force in equalizing educational opportunities for all kids in New Bedford at a time when that could not be taken for granted.

Ruby Dottin was a champion for all people and their right to quality education. She will be missed.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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