Eulogy for Dolores Noll

By Pat Hatfield

Thank you all for being here.

My name is Pat Hatfield. As you know, I am an independent resident here at The Palms [where Dolores and Pat lived in South Carolina]. My partner, Dolores Louise Noll, passed away in Memory Care on January 8th [2019].

Dolores was born in Fairfield, Iowa, but spent her childhood and teenage years in Berea, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Waldemere (Wally) and Nell Scovel Noll. Both parents expected their two daughters to pursue graduate work. Both went to Berea College where Dolores earned her Bachelors Degree in English. In graduate school she earned her Masters and PhD. Dolores specialized in Medieval Literature. She went on to teach at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

The staff of Memory Care knew Dolores as an elderly woman sliding into Alzheimer’s and sleeping most of the time. She wasn’t always like that. I met her when she was 51 years old. I met a Dynamo!

In 1970 with her great courage and raw determination, Dolores came out publicly. She was always measured, though, and did not act impulsively. Dolores waited until her father passed on. She also waited until she attained her tenure at Kent State. It was very hard to fire a professor with tenure.

In 1972 Dolores co-founded the Kent Gay Liberation Front (KGLF) which is now PRIDE! Kent. If I recollect correctly, KGLF was only the second such organization in the country.

When I went to my first KGLF meeting, I was coming out as a bisexual. I was very nervous. Expecting to find conflicted, unhappy students and others, I found instead the group laughing and chatting about various things. These people were happy! They loved and respected Dolores, who walked in a few minutes late.

Dolores (L) and Pat in 2013.

When I decided to come out, it was easy to locate the go-to person, Dolores Noll. I met Dolores in her office. I found her to be reserved, but compassionate and sensitive toward me. I liked her immediately.

Besides bringing what today is called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) awareness to Cleveland and Akron, Dolores made her mark in academics. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is a national scholarly organization. Dolores and a colleague co-founded a gay caucus there. [She was recognized for this accomplishment when an award — the Noll-Compton Award — was named after her. It’s presented annually to deserving LGBT scholarship achievements within the Association.]

The first Diversity Trailblazer Award is presented to Dolores in 2010 by Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. (KSU photo)

After her retirement, Dolores did not stop her activism. Kent State University now has an annual award program called the “Diversity Trailblazer Award” Hall of Fame. It was founded in 2010 and Dolores was the first to receive it. The “Diversity Trailblazer Award” will continue for the foreseeable future.

Among other things, Dolores served on the board of the Cleveland LGBT Center. Today there is an LGBT minor at Kent State. This could never have come about if Dolores had not paved the way for it.

Dolores was a kind and compassionate woman. Loved and respected by her students and others, she showed them her love and respect as well.

As her partner for 37 years, I knew her very well indeed. Her love for her LGBT students was obvious to me. I loved her, too. I will miss her dearly.

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This is a video of Dolores accepting the Diversity Trailblazer Award in 2010.