Obituary : Dora Grain
Dora Grain was born Dora Mae Taylor in Sumter, S.C., on June 1, 1922. Her mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. James and Elizabeth Shaw, raised her.
At age 13, Dora and her parents moved from South Carolina to New York where Dora graduated from Girls' High School in Brooklyn. Shortly after high school, Dora became active throughout New York as a political and community activist. Dora campaigned for several local politicians with a focus on fairness in labor practices during a time when it was wholly unpopular and very dangerous. This activity led her to join the staff of the CIO Labor Union (Local 65) where she worked for 10 years, first as an administrative assistant to the vice president, then as an organizer, and later as an editor for the Union newspaper. Dora was a key member of the team that organized the Lerner's Department Store Union in the 1940s.
In 1951, Dora met and married a postal worker and trucking entrepreneur who moved to Brooklyn from New Bern, N.C., named Walter F. Grain (deceased on Martha's Vineyard in 2002). After marriage, Dora retired from the labor union and spent most of her time raising their family. In addition, Dora stayed active in the community as a member of the NAACP, the National Urban League in Hollis Queens, was a promoter of African American artists in New York, and returned to education. Dora received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Queens College in New York at age 51.
Upon Walter's retirement after 32 years with the United States Postal Service and the sale of the trucking business he built and ran simultaneously for 30 years, Dora and Walter moved to Martha's Vineyard in 1976 with their youngest child. On the Vineyard, Dora was an avid bridge player, took courses at the Nathan Mayhew Seminars, and loved the natural beauty of the Vineyard and its people. Dora remained active in the community as a substitute teacher at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, a member of the League of Women Voters of Martha's Vineyard, a corporator for the Dukes County Savings Bank from 1983 to 2005, and a member of the Board of the Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard from 1983 to 1996.
Dora spent her final years living in Sarasota, Fla. and died peacefully on September 9. In addition to four children from her husband's previous marriage, three children, 15 grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren survive Dora. As described in Randall Kenan's book, "Walking On Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the 21st Century," Dora Grain was a dynamic woman of strong resolve with a great sense of meaning and purpose. She was an inspiration to many and will be missed by all who knew her.