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IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DOROTHY JEAN SINGLETON OVERTON MCPHAUL
The Loss of a National Treasure: On Monday, October 16, 2023, Mrs. Dorothy Jean Singleton Overton McPhaul, (Dorothy or “Dot” to friends and “Mama Jean” to family), was called home to be with the Lord while being cared for, comforted, and surrounded by her loving daughter, sons, devoted family, and steadfast friends. She was known in Austin, Texas as a brilliant educator, shrewd businesswoman, and a true force of nature exuding a magnetic personality.
Early years: Born in the old Brackenridge Hospital on September 14 th , 1933, her parents, Ilesta Sidle Singleton and Augusta Singleton, took home a beautiful baby girl that would grow up to be an amazing daughter, loving sibling, and a valuable member of her community. Dorothy was the oldest daughter of 5 children and her mother’s second in command. She was tasked with administering discipline, teaching her younger siblings to read (among other things), and just being there for her mother. She was a delightful and carefree child and the apple of her grandfather’s eye. Exhibiting an early interest in her grandfather’s passion for antiques, she roamed the countryside with him collecting, trading, and selling all kinds of antiques. This was a love that she would cultivate throughout her long life with an intense passion that never wavered.
Early Education: Attending school in Austin, Texas, she graduated from the original L. C. Anderson High School where she was a member of the Capezio Dance Club and led the Yellow Jackets Drill Team for 4 years. Excited about learning, she went on to attend the historically black University, (known at the time as) Prairie View University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education with a double minor in Science and Elementary Education. In her words, she was “involved in everything at Prairie View”. She was voted best dressed and the most popular on campus because she was loved by everyone. That popularity followed her throughout her life. She was the life of the party and lit up the atmosphere everywhere she went. She loved people and they loved her. Her devotion to public service led her to become a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The continuation of Delta’s public service initiatives in her community became the impetus for her daughter and great-niece’s desire and ultimate decision to claim their legacies as members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, as well.
Family Life - 1st Love: Dorothy committed her life to Christ at an early age and was a long-time member of Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. She had a fervor for the Lord, and it showed in how she lived her life and how she loved her family. Dorothy married Frederick Doyle Overton and became the very proud parents of three children. Her love extended from her children to her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. She was known and loved as the effervescent Mama Jean to them all. She married and added Willis C. McPhaul to her family in 1962 and remained married to him until his passing in 2021. Mama Jean loved for her family to gather and fellowship as often as possible. The love for dance she had in high school did not dissipate. She would lead any line dance and the Cupid Shuffle was her favorite. Mama Jean embodied the quintessential definition of a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, and educator.
Education – 2nd Love: Dorothy lived in a time when it was very dangerous for African Americans in America. Dorothy did not let that prevent her from pursuing her passions. She was a trail blazer bravely being one of the first African American teachers to transfer from a segregated to a desegregated school after the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954. Although inequity was the law of the land, Dorothy excelled as a teacher of ESL and Physical Education in LaGrange, Texas for 38 ½ years. When she spoke, you listened and learned as she professed, “she was an expert at everything” and she was. You knew it was time to listen when she said, “Now look here,” and if she was excited you would hear, “Oh my word,” and “Superb.” She retired from her teaching career in 1997 to return to Austin and provide care for her ailing mother during her battle with cancer and continued in that role of caretaker when her youngest sister, Dormetra, was also diagnosed with cancer. She continued her love of teaching by making family her students. She taught her nephew, Spencer to read at 4 years old and was currently passing those lessons on to her great-great niece, Gracyn.
Antiques – 3rd Love: Aside from her passion for her family and education, which she instilled in her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her nieces and nephews, she had a third great love, antiques. Her love for antiques was spawned by her grandfather Simon Sidle. He opened the original shop called Simon’s Antiques on Red River in Austin in 1919. She would spend days with Papa Simon cataloging and discovering antiques, she loved jewelry and glassware in particular. After the shop was relocated and renamed to Johnnie’s Antiques. She went on to become the “Renaissance Woman” of the shop after her mother’s and step father’s passing, working in all capacities: secretary, market researcher, business development consultant, manager and operator of the store in the late 1990’s. She became known as the Queen of Antiques in Austin, Texas. Leading the daily operations of the shop and taking her antiques on the road to shows all across Texas became her focus. She was always popping into estate sales and collaborating with other antique vendors to increase the variety of her offerings. She was a staple at the City-Wide Garage Sale, Warrenton, Round Top and so many more shows for years. She was a world-renowned antiques dealer, and her expertise cannot be duplicated. She believed in hard work and even worked a part time job as a stylist at Baubles and Beads until the pandemic. Whether customers wanted them or not she would give fashion tips and create looks for them. She continued her zeal for antique selling and collecting only slowing down in recent months when her health prevented her from doing so.
Legacy: Dorothy was cherished by her family and her multitude of friends and will be forever missed. She was a blazing light in this world and her impact will continue to be felt for years and years to come. She will be forever known for her style, wit, wisdom, humor, brilliance, vivaciousness, love and devotion to family. She became family for so many over the years who did not have one.
She was preceded in death by: her mother and stepfather, Ilesta and Johnnie B. Alexander; father, Augusta Singleton; brothers, Charles Woodrow Johnson and Keith O’Neal Alexander; her baby sister, Dormetra Juan Gregg; and nephews, Richard Brittenham and Ronald Lee Johnson.
She is survived by:
Sister: Shirley Ann Dillard Firkens
Children: Pamela Holt, Frederick D. Overton Jr. and Tanny N. Overton (Sonnetta)
Grandchildren: Sametria Wilson, Briana Holt, Alexandria Johnson (Albert), Tanny Overton Jr., Michael Overton and Cooper Overton
Great grandchildren: Keishaun Holt, Kimani Wilson, Braxton Overton and Sienna Overton
Nephews: Gregg J. Justice III, Spencer Gregg and Roderick Brittenham
Nieces: Dina Kay Johnson Carter and Charlene Johnson Atwood Brown
As well as a host of great nieces/nephews, cousins, and friends. Dorothy never met a stranger and was an amazing woman of strength and determination. A purposeful life well lived, a voice that spoke with dignity and pride leaving warm and happy memories that will forever live in our hearts.
THE FAMILY CONTINUES TO ASK FOR YOUR PRAYERS DURING THIS MOST DIFFICULT TIME OF BEREAVEMENT