Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Fairmont State Women of Color Luncheon on Tuesday, April 18, will honor an outstanding Fairmont community member Catherine Dooley Taylor.

The event, sponsored by the Fairmont State Office of Student Affairs, will take place at noon in the Turley Center Ballroom. Those attending are asked to RSVP by Monday, April 10, by calling (304) 367-4215. The cost for attending is $10.

"The Women of Color Luncheon is an opportunity to honor women who have shown a commitment to treating everyone equally, regardless of color," said Persis Bates, Director of Multicultural Affairs. "Their passion for the uplifting of their community is also recognized. Women from the campus of Fairmont State are also recognized for their celebration of diversity."

Catherine Dooley Taylor, a lifelong resident of Fairmont, is the daughter of the late Rev. James and Kittie Drake Dooley of Barrackville. She was married to the late Arthur James Taylor and has been a widow for 41 years. She has raised four children, Paul, Fred, Daniel and Mary, and has nurtured two nieces and one nephew in her home, as well as two grandchildren, who are currently living with her. Known to many as "Granny," she has 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She has two sisters, Rose and Betty, of Detroit, Mich., and one brother, James, of Milwaukee, Wis.

She is active in her church, Morning Star Baptist Church. She is the chairman of the trustee board, president of the missionary society, vice president of the Tygart Valley Baptist Women's Association and a member of the Church Women United of Marion County. Her focus is helping anyone in a time of need. She continues to take care of the elderly, visit nursing homes, cook meals and attend community events.

In memory of Geraldine C. Belmear, who died in 2005, a past recipient and faithful supporter of the Women of Color Luncheon, all women who attend this year's luncheon are asked to come dressed in their "Sunday best," hat included.

A native of Fairmont, she spent a lifetime breaking both color and gender barriers. From her beginnings as the 1936 valedictorian of Dunbar High School to her induction into the West Virginia University Student Affairs Hall of Fame, she was a true pioneer.

For nearly 30 years, Belmear worked with the State Cooperative Extension Service, ultimately supervising a staff of 15. She made history when she was placed in charge of the Marion County Homemakers Program, becoming the first black woman in the nation to hold this rank. She also received national acclaim for creating Go Go the Good Nutrition Clown. In 1972, she was named National Association of Extension Home Economics Award for Distinguished Service.

After retiring from the Extension Service, Belmar began a second career at WVU, serving successively as Black Student Advisor, Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs and Assistant Coordinator of Minority Affairs from 1978 until her retirement in 1987. She helped create the Center for Black Culture and Research and counseled high and low achieving students and their parents, making a lasting impact upon a generation of students by serving as a "surrogate grandmother."