From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Verna J. Dozier dies at 88

From "Matthew Davies" <>
Date Mon, 4 Sep 2006 11:47:09 -0400

Episcopal News Service Saturday, September 02, 2006

Verna J. Dozier dies at 88

[ENS] Verna Josephine Dozier, 88, a teacher of English literature at the high school level and a noted Episcopal religious educator who focused on Bible study and claiming the authority of the laity, died September 1, 2006 at Collington Episcopal Life Care Community in Mitchellville, Maryland, where she had been under care for advanced Parkinson's disease since 1992.

Funeral arrangements are not yet complete.

Dozier was born October 9, 1917 in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington, DC, the oldest of two daughters of Lonna and Lucie E. Carter Dozier. Her sister Lois Gertrude Dozier, with whom she was close, died in 1998 at the age of 79. Neither of the sisters married. Verna, who had always anticipated that she would "be taken first," declared in 1990 that "I had planned to die at age seventy. I had explained that to God on no uncertain terms."

She attended Washington's Dunbar High School, where she skipped two grades and prepared to enter college when she was 15. She received her B.A. in English from Howard University in 1937 and an M.A. in English literature in 1938.

Dozier had always wanted to be a teacher, and her first career was dedicated to the public schools. After receiving her master's degree, she taught for a year in Baltimore, then moved back to serve the rest of her career in the Washington schools, first at Brown Junior High School, then Cardozo High School, and finally at Ballou High School. For 34 years she worked for the Washington, D.C. Board of Education, where she also served as an administrator, and worked to develop innovative curricula. Dozier may have been the first African-American to head a department in the area's newly integrated school system. When she was 57, in June of 1975, Dozier took early retirement.

She received two honorary doctorates: a Doctor of Humane Letters from the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia, and a Doctor of Divinity from the University of the South in 1988.

Dozier's primary intellectual and religious influences were grounded in her closely knit family. Her early religious faith was shaped by her agnostic father and her Baptist mother. When she began college, Dozier stopped going to the local Baptist church and began going with her father to the Howard University Chapel to hear the preaching of its noted theologians-Dean Howard Thurman, Dr. Benjamin Mays and others.

Full obituary:

Verna Dozier's Bibliography is available at:

Some words of Verna Dozier are available at:

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home