Rev. Dr. Dorothy Ann Davis McKinney Wright made the transition to the communion of saints on October 15, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Wright was a multi-talented woman. Born on September 16, 1931 in Tillar, Arkansas, a small town southeast of Pine Bluff, the fourth child of Mrs. Mattie Brown Davis and Rev. Silas Davis. Dorothy’s family moved to Pine Bluff while she was in grade school. Dorothy finished high school at 16 and attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). While attending college, Dorothy met and married Rufus William McKinney in 1951. Rufus and Dorothy along with other life-long friends served on the championship Arkansas AM&N Debate Team. Dorothy was a founding member of the charter chapter of Delta Sigma Theta on the campus of UAPB. They graduated college together in 1953 and remained married for 25 years.
Dorothy supported Rufus during his attendance at law school at the University of Indiana while raising two young boys. In 1956, Rufus and Dorothy moved to Washington, DC. and lived in Mayfair Mansions, an apartment community in Northeast designed for young black professionals and their families. Dorothy and Rufus made life-long friends in Mayfair and were invited to attend Tabor Presbyterian Church, which they eventually joined. Dorothy worked as a histo-chemist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Their second daughter was born shortly after their move to Shepherd Park in northwest Washington. Dorothy took a job in the Dental Lab at the School of Dentistry at Howard University where she met a life-long friend Natalie Rucker. Dorothy and Natalie enjoyed spending their lunch breaks in Rock Creek Park, one of Dorothy’s favorite places to visit. Her soul rejoiced when she was among nature which she instilled a deep appreciation for among her children, nieces and nephews. Dorothy enjoyed visiting the National Gallery of Art, The Arboretum in northeast, Great Falls, and taking her children to free concerts on the Mall, Carter Barron amphitheater, and the Channel waterfront. Reading was one of her favorite pastimes and she would take her children for frequent visits to the Takoma Park library. She loved to cook, many friends would be delighted when they would stop by Locust Road and were treated to her famous melt-in-your mouth cloverleaf homemade rolls and a bowl of gumbo.
Dorothy volunteered her time in various community organizations including; NAACP, the Urban League, Junior Neighbors, Den Mother for the local Boy Scout Troop, Tabor Presbyterian Church, and the League of Women Voters, while tending to her growing family that included four children, Rufus, Jr. Frederick Warren, Anne Marie, and Paula Elaine. Dorothy’s commitment to community support is one of the lasting gifts she bestowed upon her children and all who came into close contact with her. Dorothy was also committed to caring for her younger sister Gayle Davis (Harrison) and Rufus’ younger brother Lorenzo McKinney while they were college students at Howard University. Dorothy and Rufus attended meetings at the 12th Street YWCA that helped to organize the Church of the Redeemer Presbyterian USA. One of her fondest memories was when she, Rufus, and their debate team captain, Frank Hollis, participated in the famous March on Washington in 1963.
In 1969, the family moved from Washington, D.C. to Altadena, California. Dorothy remained fully engaged with helping her four children excel in school. During her three years in California she remained active with the League of Women Voters and she trained and became a docent at the Los Angeles Gallery of Art. The family moved back to Washington, D.C. in 1972. Upon her return to Washington, Dorothy resumed active status with the League of Women Voters and joined the Board of Directors of Common Cause, a democratic think-tank.
In 1975 Dorothy decided to heed her call to God and follow in the footsteps of her father Rev. Silas Davis, and began her studies at Howard University School of Divinity. While in school, Dorothy worked as an editor for the National Association of Social Work (NASW) and on Dr. Leon Edward Wright’s book “From Cult to Cosmos: Can Jesus Be Saved?”. After leaving NASW, she served as the Director of Community Food and Nutrition at the United Planning Organization (UPO). Dorothy was a Chaplain Assistant to Dean Crawford at Howard, and earned her Masters in Divinity in 1981. Her research and data on hunger from her graduate thesis was used for the creation of an anti-hunger program model. Dorothy used her position at UPO to galvanize senior citizens, local churches and ministers and formed a network of church food pantry distribution sites in 1977 that launched the Capital Area Community Food Bank.
Dorothy was a leader within the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA), and after her installation into the National Capital Presbytery (NCP), she immediately began work as a missionary in Ibadan, Nigeria. Dorothy spent three years as the PCUSA’s representative at the Institute for Church and Society in Nigeria. In Jos, Nigeria, Dorothy worked on creating lines of communication between the minority Christian community and the majority Islamic community.
Dorothy married Dr. Leon Edward Wright in 1988. That same year she became the Director of the International Designs for Economic Awareness (IDEA), a program sponsored by the PCUSA. In this position she organized laity and clergy trips to Mexico, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. In 1991 Dorothy served as interim minister for the National Capital Presbytery at; Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, Northeastern Presbyterian Church, Ashburn Presbyterian, Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, and Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Dorothy was a prolific and much in demand minister and gave dozens of guest sermons for other denominations within the body of Christ. In 1992, Dorothy was asked and agreed to serve as Vice-Moderator for the Presbyterian Church USA. She held this position for one year. In 1993 she completed and was awarded a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Seminary in Chicago.
After Dr. Leon Wright’s death in 1996, Dorothy accepted a call to pastor Faith Presbyterian Church and serve as campus chaplain at her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Dr. Wright taught courses, but primarily tended to the spiritual needs of her congregation and UAPB students. She retired from her work at Faith and UAPB in 2002 and returned to Washington DC to be closer to family.
Dorothy has been described as having the ‘soul of an artist’. She loved to paint, and spent many hours at the National Gallery of Art. In 2003 she was training as a docent with the National Gallery of Art when she fell due to failing eyesight, which prevented her from completing her life-long dream. She lived with her oldest daughter, Anne Marie McKinney Brobby in Silver Spring until her death.
Rev. Dr. Wright was pre-deceased by her second husband Dr. Leon Wright, her brother Carl Davis, her sisters Jo Marva Rancifer and Gayle Harrison. Dr. Wright is survived by her four children; Rufus William McKinney, Esq of Washington, DC, Frederick Warren McKinney, Ph.D. (Ivy) of Trumbull, CT, Anne Marie McKinney Brobby (N. Duke) of Silver Spring, MD and Paula Elaine Jordan (Daryle) of Manassas, VA. Rev. Dr. Wright has ten grandchildren – Diarra McKinney, Esq. (Alexis), Dr. Kibwe McKinney (Jeri), Malachi McKinney, Esq (Chelsea), Warren McKinney, Ph.D. (Sahar), Norbert “DJ” Brobby, Dana McKinney, Samantha Jordan (Guillame), Doriane Brobby, Ryan Jordan, and Sydney Jordan. Additionally, Dr. Wright has 7 great grandchildren; Nathan, Suri, Ava, Cole, Nile, Aydin and Kian. Dr. Wright leaves one sister, Lola Gordon of Little Rock, Arkansas and scores of nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends from around the world.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to an organization dear to Dorothy’s heart, the Capital Area Food Bank. Go to https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/donate/. To mark this gift as a Tribute, check the box next to “This is a tribute gift.” Then select “In memory of” and type in “Dorothy Wright” in the “Memorial Name” section and “Paula Jordan” in the “Person to Notify” section. Choose a Notification Method Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail address (6170 Treywood Lane, Manassas, VA 20112).
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