One of the earliest of the many sweet surprises my genealogical research has uncovered is that I am distant cousin to a close college friend, Lorna Dove. Lorna is descended from Durant Dove, alias Durant Henderson, whose mother, Nancy Henderson, I believe to have been the sister of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Patsy Henderson.
I met Lorna’s father Milton Dove in the days leading up to our graduation from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I knew of his tremendous work as a community activist in Kinston and was proud to claim a bit of kinship with him.
Today, I learned that Mr. Dove passed away last week at the age of 93. My deepest condolences go to the Dove family, who shared their father with so many for such good. Rest in peace, Milton Dove!
“KINSTON – On December 12, 1923, Milton Bickett Dove Sr. was born to Hosea and Rosella Dove on the family farm in the Woodington area of Lenoir County, North Carolina. He was a lifelong resident of Lenoir County having attended the public school system and graduating as valedictorian from Adkin High School in 1941. He passed away peacefully at his home on October 26, 2017. He met and married Mary Frances Mills on March 29, 1942 after which they moved to Kinston staying first in the Mitchell Wooten Courts Housing Projects, then in Lincoln City, and finally on Beech Avenue. Together they raised five children, Velma, Milton Jr., Kaye, Timber, and Lorna. Milton opened Dove’s Auto Service in 1946 and made many real estate investments. With the support of his wife Frances, he was able to pursue his life’s passion, community service. He worked with the Boy Scouts of America serving as scout master for many years, participated in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Black Artist Guild, and the Greater Kinston Credit Union. The family frequently joked about the fact that he served as president of the elementary school PTA long after his children had left the school. In 1976 when the Lenoir County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established, he was elected as the branch president. He was an NAACP Golden Heritage Lifetime Member and encouraged everyone to join as a lifetime member. While branch president, school desegregation was a primary initiative, however they also fought to eliminate discriminatory employment practices and spearheaded a voter registration drive. The NAACP presented him with many awards as he worked on the county, conference, and state levels. Throughout his life, he worked against Jim Crow Laws and upon discerning that they understood and accepted the risks associated with public protests, he encouraged his children to stand up for social justice. He successfully sued the Kinston School District for conducting a separate but unequal education system. The lawsuit resulted in a court-ordered integration plan resulting in his daughter Lorna’s enrollment in the previously “whites only” Northwest Elementary School. Prior to that, his daughter Kaye was one of the first black student enrollees in Grainger High School under the Freedom of Choice Plan. Attending the March on Washington in 1963 along with a bus load of other community activists was one of his fondest memories. Also being an ardent supporter and admirer of Nelson Mandela, in 1997 he visited South Africa and toured Mandela’s home in Soweto and the place of his 27-year imprisonment, Robbins Island. The trip to South Africa was truly a high light of his life. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Frances; brothers, Wiley, Jarrell, King David; and sister, Ella Gray. He is survived by his sister, Eva Mae and brother, Alvin (Crystal) as well as five children, Velma Dove (Brian), Milton Jr., Kaye Jackson (James), Timber Washington (Lester), and Lorna Mills Dove (Daniel) along with a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. The funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 1 at the United American Free Will Baptist Tabernacle, 1011 Dr. J.E. Reddick Circle, Kinston, NC. Burial will follow in Mills Memorial Gardens. A wake will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, at Mills Funeral Home. Viewing will be held one hour prior to the service Wednesday at the church. Arrangements are by Mills Funeral Home, Inc. Sign the guest book at kinston.com.”