Rock Star for Doing Good: Remembering Dorothy Martin-Long

If one could achieve legendary status in Everett simply by being kind, straight-forward, and graceful, then life-long resident Dorothy ‘Dottie’ Martin-Long achieved celebrity status for the cause.

Martin-Long, 80, passed away after a short illness on Aug. 5 in Mass General Hospital. Her services will take place online via the Emmanuel Baptist Church (Malden) Facebook page this Saturday, Aug. 15, at 10:45 a.m.

As her pastor said, Everett’s Dorothy Martin-Long was a rock star and celebrity in Everett for doing good and impacting peoples’ lives. She passed away after a short illness on Aug. 5.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Dottie Long is strength,” said her pastor, Wayne Gadie, of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malden – where she was a charter member for her entire life. “She was a strong woman in every sense – physically, spiritually, intellectually, socially and politically…I guess she was kind of like a rock star and celebrity in Everett for doing good and making a difference in people’s lives.”

She was born in Everett to Jerry and Lucy Martin and was one of nine children, graduating Everett High and spending her whole life in Everett. She also graduated the Malden School of Business. She was accredited in American Sign Language by Boston University, and worked at H&R Block for 30 years, retiring as District Manager. 

At Emmanuel Baptist Church, she served on the Finance Board, Building Council, taught Sunday School and was a food pantry volunteer. Martin-Long also served as an original member of the North Shore Black Women’s Association. 

She was passionate about volunteer work and contributing to her community. In the past, she served on the Board of Directors for the Devens School, the Malden YMCA and the Mystic Valley Elder Services. She was also an Election Warden for the City of Everett. She was also a member of  the Everett School Committee and, in 2009, she was elected Commissioner to the Everett Charter Commission, where she and her fellow members modernized and rewrote the City’s constitution. In 2018 she was honored at Gillette Stadium as a “Patriots Difference Maker” for her volunteer commitment to Housing Families, Inc. where she dedicated 16 years tutoring homeless children. Helping children and their families brought her such joy. At the time of her death, she was serving on the City’s recently formed Diversity and Equity Task Force.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria said Martin-Long was a trailblazer in the community and a fantastic activist for whatever cause she championed.

“Dorothy was part of Everett’s makeup,” said Mayor DeMaria. “She was a member of the Everett School Committee, a member of the City’s Diversity and Equity Task Force, and a board member at the YMCA to just name a few. Dorothy was a friend, and someone that would provide advice and guidance with no hesitation of honesty and compassion. She was a mother, a grandmother, and a mentor to so many. On behalf of Stacy and I, we send our deepest condolences to her family. May God Bless you during this difficult time.”

School Committee Chair Tom Abruzzese said he had known Martin-Long for most of his life, but last year had the pleasure of picking her to serve on the Superintendent Search Committee – which met through the summer and fall of 2019. Martin-Long was crucial in that early process for picking the superintendent, he said, just as she was in most of her other endeavors.

“She was just a fabulous lady in all she did,” he said. “Other than the people on the Search Committee and the interviewees, most didn’t get the opportunity to see her in action. She was terrific, classy and ahead of her time in being outspoken. The thing I remember about Dottie is – and I’ll not say this about a lot of people – is she was a true original and a very real person.”

He said that while she was a serious person, she knew how to have a sense of humor as well. For instance, when Abruzzese called her to serve on the Search Committee, she told him she wouldn’t do it for him, but would do it for his wife since she liked her so much.

“That’s what she told me – not for me but for my wife,” she said. “We had a laugh at that.”

City Clerk Sergio Cornelio said he has known Martin-Long since he got involved in politics at the age of 18, and most recently serving with her as an Election Commissioner.

“She’s always been fair to me and I got to know her better the last five years working on the Election Commission and working hand-in-hand,” she said. “She was fair, but tough. She didn’t hold her punches. If she thought you were wrong, she would say it. That’s refreshing in government…She took her job very seriously and loved working with the kids at the high school for the voter registration drive.”

Her work with kids and teens was something Pastor Gadie said she had a talent for, reaching out to kids and making her words stick. She was involved in the youth ministry at Emmanuel Baptist, and frequently taught teens for Sunday School.

“She was involved with the ministry on every level at EBC, but she loved working with young people,” he said. “She had a way of getting their attention and being able to connect with them and saying things that struck a chord. She had a talent for being patient with young people and saying things that stuck with them.”

Pastor Gadie said he thought that Martin-Long was such a strong woman, that there was no way her illness could get the best of her. When she passed, he said, it came as quite a shock.

“I really thought she would survive this illness and hoped she could come out of it and stand up with a strong testimony and a faith-building testimony,” he said. “I kind of couldn’t believe it because she’s such a strong person.”

Martin-Long’s greatest pride and joy was her family and friends. She was a devoted and loving mother to her two sons, Walter Jr. and Jonathan, and a caring mother-in-law to April and she adored her three grandsons, Christopher, Andre’ and Devin. She was a loving sister, aunt and friend to so many. She is survived by her two brothers, Robert Martin Sr. and Richard Martin of Everett.

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