Professor Emeritus Dorothy Elizabeth Flowers Hall Clayton, 80, was born at the East Moline Watertown home of her grandparents, Issac and Hester Strickland on July 22, 1943 (approximate). Her parents were Eulis Flowers and Lilian Strickland Flowers. Her baby brother, Eulis Flowers, Jr., had been born a year before her and had not lived past his infancy. Dorothy’s beloved younger sister, Alice Estelle, was born approximately a year and half later. The Stricklands (maternal family) and Flowers (fraternal home) lived on the same street and so Dorothy had the amazing experience of growing up not just knowing her parents’ family members, but also growing up around them.
Mt. Zion Church in Watertown was a second home. “I remember one butter cookie with a hole in the center; I ate it slowly so that it would last. Vacation Bible School, Sunday Church singing is what I remember.” Mt. Zion Church was where Dorothy not just attended, but taught Bible school as a youth, sang in the choir (while also fighting the girls “bothering” her sister) and fellowshipped with the three beautiful children who would become her lifelong cherished kindred spirits: Deeni Bell, Claudia Giles and Judith “Judy” Lewis. Dorothy told many stories of how she believed the seed for teaching was planted because of her love of teaching the Bible as a youth. “Church and school were the two places where we were allowed to go. My grandparents were old, and they knew that we would be okay at school and church. I learned to read very early and so I was always the one who they looked to read the Word and explain it.” Dorothy spoke reverently of her hometown with one stoplight and a small library (“I read every book in there.”).
At the vibrant age of 17, Dorothy graduated from high school and left East Moline to study for her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and early childhood education at Illinois State University. While studying at ISU, Dorothy met the love of her life and husband, Keith Burton Hall, Sr. She graduated in three years and would marry Keith the same year. From the beautiful union, Denise (Dr. Denise Elizabeth Hall) and Keith (Keith Burton Hall, Jr.) would be born and bring great joy to the couple. The family would reside and thrive in city of Peoria. She worked as an elementary school teacher and Keith, Sr. worked at Caterpillar.
At the dissolution of the marriage, Dorothy would go on to study at Bradley University and graduate with her Master’s degree in Special Education with a focus on children. After her studies at Bradley, she would become reacquainted with a college friend, James Clayton. Their friendship would develop. She married James. They moved to Philadelphia for a short period, and then moved on to Carson, California.
The move to California would spark many great endeavors for Dorothy. The city of Carson would be where the family would land and live with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Marvin and Sonia Clayton and their two children, Vincent and Victor. She would write a great and successful play with her husband, James, and Marvin called “Cinderella Brown”. Full tenured professorship would be earned at Harbor City Community College – where she pursued her focus on the Learning Center. Also, she would welcome her last born child Kamillah Elizabeth Clayton. Christ Second Baptist would become her beloved church for close to 25 plus years.
The small city of Cypress would be where so many people would come to know Dorothy. Whether it be visiting her at her home for Bible study, oatmeal cookies, lemons and/or just good conversation. Cottonwood Christian Center is where Dorothy chose to fellowship and study (School of Ministry and the work in the bookstore). She would venture out to all the fun places: Valley View Cinema, Katella Deli, and Polly Pies. She was an introvert and homebody. Dorothy felt quite content to walk her dog, watch the Hallmark movie channel and read.
Dorothy saw her life as one of service. “The one key is staying close to the Lord and He will see you through.” He did. He saw her through and welcomed her home on January 14, 2024.
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