Doris Alston Remembered

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Tallahassee, FL - Dr. Doris Alston died September 3rd... Alston would've turned 83 years old this past Sunday September 26.
The Tallahassee civil rights activist was the first African-American woman to ever be elected to a county-wide office in Leon County, retiring from the Leon County school board and FAMU's psycology department in 1978.
Bob Rackleff, a Leon County Commissioner, says, "She was a distinguished scholar and educator. She had a doctorate, she was in educational psychology. She certainly was a leader. People like that are like living libraries and when they die, the library closes permanently. So, we need to learn from them."
Alston was the widow of Melvin Alston, who was a dean at FAMU for more than 30 years...
She is survived by four children and a host of family members and admirers.

WCTV has included an obituary for Doris Alston:

26 September 2010
Doris N. Alston (1927 - 2010)

On the morning of September 3, 2010, Dr. Doris Ruby Newsome Alston completed her earthly journey with an indomitable spirit and vitality that characterized her life. She was born on September 26, 1927 into a large family residing amidst the beautiful, rural landscapes of Camden, North Carolina. Like so many members of the fabled "Greatest Generation," Doris embodied the ideals of strong family values, education, hard work and integrity. Undeterred by the poverty that engulfed those around her, she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School at the early age of sixteen. She then married prominent high school teacher, Dr. Melvin O. Alston. Melvin, a vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement, had successfully challenged the discriminatory pay practices of the Norfolk City Public School District in 1945 and made the equalization of salaries for African American teachers in that area a dream no longer deferred. The Alston's moved to Tallahassee, where Melvin was offered the position of Dean of Education at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College (later University). Doris put her education on hold while Melvin and she started a family of five children: Dwight, Brenda, Alemon, Manny, and Doxey. She finished her undergraduate degree at FAMU in 1952. Upon graduation, she began her teaching career in the Leon County Public School District, becoming one of the first African Americans to earn a merit raise in salary from the Florida Legislature because of her outstanding job performance. Encouraged by her success in the classroom and spurred on by an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge and self-improvement, Doris began pursuing a graduate education at the University of of Minnesota, where she earned a Master's degree in educational psychology. She then matriculated at Florida State University's graduate program, earning a Ph.D. with a focus on cognitive development and reading in 1970. Dr. Alston supplemented her education with post-doctoral studies at Duke University, Washington University and Harvard, carefully absorbing the ideas and methods of noted psychologists such as B. F. Skinner. Armed with her scholastic triumphs and displaying an inestimable energy, Dr. Alston set about applying her knowledge to the improvement of student achievement in both the Leon County Public School District and the Psychology Department at FAMU. Her talent and intellect caught the eye of then Florida Governor Rubin Askew, who appointed her to a vacant position on the Leon County School Board. She then ran for the post in her own right, and won. Doris Alston was the first African American to serve in a county-wide position in Leon County, Florida. After many years of sterling service as a public servant and educator, Doris officially retired from both careers in 1978. In addition to her professional pursuits, Alston was also a formidable softball and tennis player who enjoyed much success on the diamond and the court. From the time "Grandma" first picked up a tennis racquet, at the age of 47 in 1974 to the point when she ended her "competitive" career in 2000, she competed in numerous tennis tournaments in Florida and across the nation, winning several state championships in her age division (Women 56-65), as well as national championship medals and trophies. These pursuits provided the basis for her first children's book, "Grandma and Tennis," written under her pen name the "The Real Grandma." Doris would continue The Real Grandma series with "Grandma and Softball" and "Grandma and Bowling." "The Real Grandma" also made a brief foray into the rap world with "Grandma and Rhymes." Alston also explored more adult themes with books like the "ABCs of Aging," which contained musings on how one can continue to live fully after having led a rewarding and enriching life. Doris lived what she wrote, and despite her many ailments, she remained ebullient, captivating and wise until her last breath. A woman of valor now rests. Dr. Alston is survived by several family members: four loving and devoted children, Brenda, Alemon, Manny (Anita) and Doxey (Paula); Dwight predeceased his mother in 2007; nine grandchildren, Brenda Casselius, Mary Johnson, Julie Gilliard, Kim Alston, Melvin Alston, Jasmine Alston, JonPaul McBride, Matthew Jackson, Dylan Alston and Skyler Alston; seven great-grandchildren; two faithful and devoted sisters, Ruth Holmes and Bessie Johns; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Also, there were several persons who supported the family during the last year and a half of Dr. Alston's earthly journey; Mrs. Geraldine Floyd-Davis, Mrs. Samuel Dixie, Mrs. Betty Stevens and Ms. Marilyn Baldwin. Furthermore, Mrs. Dorothy Bryant rendered expert, quality personal care, day in and day out, going far beyond the call of duty, without a fault anywhere. She epitomized the love of Christ in her service to Dr. Alston. The family will always treasure her commitment and devotion to the now fallen matriarch of the family.In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to Big Bend Hospice, which provided caring and compassionate nurses (Sally, Deborah, Jackie, Amy), aides (Jena, Shelby, Tamika, Latisha, Rose Marie), case worker (Joanne) and many other expert support personnel.

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