March 10, 2023, would have been the 95th birthday of Dorothy Elizabeth Massingale Steward, mother of the 2012 Black Engineer of the Year, David L. Steward. Lincoln University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) in Missouri announced the unveiling of the Dorothy E. Steward Art Gallery to mark the date.
According to the press release, the new Lincoln University (LU) art gallery, which was unveiled Friday, is located on the second floor of the Richardson Auditorium on the LU campus and is named for Dorothy, who was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from LU for her accomplishments and love for education and service.
Born March 10, 1928, Dorothy was the only child of James Frederick and Martha Ann Wilson Massingale. An intelligent and precocious student, she attended the Lincoln School in Clinton, Missouri, where she skipped two grades. Her family later moved to Chicago to further her education during segregation, where she attended Wendell Phillips High School and graduated a year early. She loved music and took college courses in Chicago as well.
Dorothy and her husband, Harold Lloyd Steward, were married in 1946 and had eight children together, including David, who would become the 2012 Black Engineer of the Year.
Back in Clinton, Missouri, Dorothy won respect and admiration as a pillar in the Black community. In addition to working as a housekeeper and later as a typesetter and layout designer for the Clinton Daily Democrat, Dorothy served on religious and civic boards, including Grand Matron of the Order of Eastern Star, founding member of the Samaritan Center Development Board, and the Henry Country Library Board of Directors, an institution that earlier in her life had denied her entry due to segregation.
She also founded and was the den mother to Clinton’s first integrated Boy Scout Troop. But, according to her obituary, one of Dorothy’s most cherished accolades was the naming of the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz in St. Louis, an organization dedicated to preserving the art of jazz for future generations.
Dorothy was musically gifted and taught and encouraged her kids to play music. She played piano and alto saxophone and lifted her sweet soprano voice in worship at St. James Church, Clinton United Methodist Church, and numerous gatherings in the community. She continued to sing until she had no voice.
Dorothy painted a masterpiece with her life, was a good “steward” of all God provided, and proved that it is more than enough while we all have one life done.