Dorothy Lorraine Bolden, 92, of Overbrook, a longtime PennDot legal secretary as well as a church worker and community volunteer, died Thursday, June 11, of cancer at her daughter’s home in central New Jersey.
“Lorraine,” as she was known to family, was born in Philadelphia to Isabel Alexander and James Marshall McBride, and raised in North Philadelphia with five brothers.
She was educated in the Philadelphia public school system. After graduating from high school, she worked several jobs, ultimately becoming a secretary for PennDot’s legal department. She worked for 30 years at offices in Northeast Philadelphia and then in Valley Forge.
In 1947, she married Edward Bolden, a sanitation truck driver in Philadelphia. They had two children. He died in 1988.
She was an active member of the Greater Refuge Church of Jesus Christ and later joined the Ambassador Seed of Love Church, both in North Philadelphia.
During more than 60 years of church work, she served in senior positions, supporting the elevation of women within the church hierarchy, raising funds for members facing economic hardship, and organizing prayer chains for those anguished or in trouble.
Mrs. Bolden’s church was a part of an international Pentecostal group, and she often traveled to attend conventions here and across the country.
At 75, Mrs. Bolden fulfilled her dream of becoming a college graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree from W.L. Bonner College in Columbia, S.C., which specializes in Bible studies.
After retiring from PennDot, she joined the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, working with students at Overbrook Elementary School to improve their reading skills.
Mrs. Bolden was especially proud of her volunteer work, answering calls to a domestic abuse hotline, her family said. She counseled women and gently guided them to an array of social services.
Mrs. Bolden was also known as a powerful singer. Her soaring alto voice could be heard at services along with the church choir.
For many years, she sang in the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church on South Broad Street. Hundreds of the best voices from across Philadelphia were chosen to participate in the holiday event. She was especially proud to have been mentored by its director, J. Edward Hoy, she told her family.
A civic volunteer, Mrs. Bolden was chaplain and secretary of the Twenty Hundred North 62nd Block Club in Overbrook, to which she moved after retiring. “She was a beloved and honored member of her neighborhood,” her family said in a tribute.
Even as she aged, she insisted on showing up at the polls to cast her vote in primary and general elections. “Nothing could interfere with her voting,” the family said.
After selling her Overbrook home in 2017, Mrs. Bolden moved to the Watermark at Logan Square, a retirement community. She kept a busy schedule attending concerts, performing in in-house plays, and entertaining relatives.
She is survived by a daughter, Patricia Nima-Mohammed; a son, Reginald; four grandchildren; five nieces; and four nephews.
Funeral services are to be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 19, at the Ambassador Seed of Love Church, 1718 W. Susquehanna Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19121. Interment will follow in Fernwood Cemetery, Lansdowne. The graveside service will be according to COVID-19 funeral protocols.