Passed into eternity on March 15, 2020 in Tampa Florida, at the home of her daughter, Tonetta Henderson. Millie was the youngest daughter of Luther and Ozella Dowdell and was born on February 18, 1925 in Hartford, CT. She resided in Rockville Centre, NY and summered in Oak Bluffs, MA. She was a graduate of Weaver High School (Hartford, CT), Hampton Institute (Hampton, VA), and Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY), where she earned a Master’s degree in Library Science. Millie was a member of the Lutheran Church of the Epiphany (Hempstead, NY) and a member and trustee emeritus of Union Chapel (Oak Bluffs, MA).
For over 25 years she was a librarian in the Copiague Public Schools. After retirement, she spent May-October of each year with her beloved sisters in their cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. Among her favorite activities were playing bridge, walking, and supporting the array of charitable activities conducted by the Cottagers, Inc.
In her later years, she enjoyed quilting with friends and sitting on the benches at Town Beach, watching and joining in the camaraderie of the Martha’s Vineyard Polar Bears. She eagerly shared information and advice to island newcomers and often ended conversations with an invitation to sit with her on her cottage’s breezy porch. She was kind, thoughtful, and cared deeply about people. When at home, she often called to check on friends and family.
In addition to being a member of the Cottagers for over 60 years, she was also an active member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was especially important to her that her people understand their historical struggles and accomplishments.
Though Millie was short in stature, she had a warrior’s heart. She had a strength and determination like few others and was widely admired for her tenacity. She could always be relied upon to get the job done. Millie was also known for being frank; without hesitation, she would share what was on her mind. She held local politicians accountable for their decisions and vociferously spoke up when she perceived an injustice.
Millie is predeceased by her sisters, Kathryn Dowdell Allen and Ruth Scarville Bonaparte. Remaining to celebrate her life are: daughter, Tonetta Henderson, grandson Michael (Jennifer) Freeman, great grandchildren Leila, Neveah, and Michael, niece Jacquelyn (Arthur) Randolph, nephew Millard (Venessa) Allen, great niece Alicia Taylor and a host of relatives and friends.
Memorial services will be held in New York and on Martha’s Vineyard at a later time.
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