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Dolores Hickambottom, 1931-2021

Published on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | 11:57 am
Dolores Hickambottom, seen in 2018.

Pasadena Now has learned that local activist Dolores Hickambottom, 90, died on Monday.

“Our City lost a bright light yesterday evening with the passing of Dolores Hickambottom,” said Mayor Victor Gordo said, 

“I know that all of Pasadena joins me in mourning the loss of Dolores Hickambottom who for so many decades guided our community with dignity, respect, and a kind and loving manner.  Dolores was a friend and mother figure to all of Pasadena.”

“In words written about Dolores over the next few days, her work as a champion of women’s and civil rights for well over 50 years in our community, will be a hallmark. Still, for many of us, Dolores has been so special above and beyond her daily work.”

“Please join me in thanking the Hickambottom family for having allowed Dolores to do so much good for our great City.”

Hickambottom, a 57-year resident of Altadena, was born in 1931 in New Orleans, and served as a tireless advocate for equal opportunity since her four children, Ann Marie, Elbie Jr. (Skip), Leslie and John, began attending local schools.

The family came to local prominence when Elbie Hickambottom Sr., served on the Board of Education following the landmark case Pasadena City Board of Education v. Spangler, which made the Pasadena Unified School District the first district west of the Mississippi to implement busing under a court ruling. He died in 2003. The Pasadena Unified School District continues to meet in the Elbie J. Hickambottom Board Room named in his honor. 

Along with her husband, Dolores was instrumental in starting the Pasadena Education Foundation in 1971. 

Pasadena Unified Superintendent Brian McDonald said he was deeply saddened by her passing.

“Mrs. Hickambottom has been a stalwart of the community who dedicated herself to fighting for the rights of those in our community who were disenfranchised,” McDonald said, “Along with her husband, Elbie J. Hickambottom, for whom the PUSD boardroom is named, she was a strong advocate for public schools and especially our PUSD schools. Together they were an integral part of the fight to integrate our public schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mrs. Hickambottom was not only a strong supporter of public schools, but was a founding member of the Pasadena Educational Foundation which provides significant resources and support to our district.”

She has also been active in campaigns for civil rights, women’s rights, family issues and education.

She was instrumental in the election of Loretta Thompson Glickman. In 1977, Thompson-Glickman became the first Black woman elected as a Pasadena city director (now known as councilmembers). Four years later, she became the city’s first Black vice mayor, before rotating into the mayor’s chair in 1982.

“I am so saddened by this news. Mrs. Hickambottom was a treasure and so important to the success of multiple Black women electeds in Pasadena and beyond,” said former City Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate Jacque Robinson- Baisley. “My heart is heavy. Rest well, Mrs. Hickambottom. An example for us all.”

Dolores served as her field representative and later served on the staffs of State Senators Walter Stiern, Richard Polanco and Jack Scott.

“When we needed answers to some of our greatest problems, we turned to The Oracle, Dolores Hickambottom,” said Councilmember John Kennedy. “Dolores was a sagacious and serious leader.”

“She polished her teeth with wit, charm and the love of people. Mrs. Hickambottom will be remembered as someone who loved her family and community.”

“Mrs. Hickambottom served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corp (WAC) in World War II. She was willing to die for her country to ensure that the rest of us would hopefully one day experience the full measure of citizenship.”

Kennedy said Dolores Hickambottom lived her life on a platform called kindness and fairness.

“It was my advancement to obtain her views on a number of subjects. I always knew that after leaving her presence I had been blessed.”

“Thank you Mrs. Dolores Hickambottom for blessing Pasadena, our State and our Country!”

Hickambottom’s work did not stop there. She also provided advice to several police chiefs, including John Perez.

“My heart is very sad with the passing of Dolores, she was also supportive and often provided helpful advice over my career,” Perez told Pasadena Now on Tuesday. “She remains in my heart with great memories and our prayers are with the entire Hickambottom family.”

She later attended Barack Obama’s inauguration. 

In 2014, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and the California Legislative Black Caucus honored local Dolores at a ceremony in the state Capitol as an “Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement” for her lifetime quest for equality in social, political and educational opportunities.       

“I’ve known Dolores Hickambottom for over 30 years and I am saddened by her loss,” Holden said. “She was an amazing human being, and a life-long advocate of social justice and equitable education. Her legacy is one that reminds us to never give up, to fight for what is just and to treat others with kindness. Her loss is felt not only by her community of Altadena and Pasadena, but of equal rights advocates, leaders in education and public policy, as well as her friends, and family. Her light has shined bright and we will continue serving in her honor. “

According to Gordo, Dolores said upon recently receiving a lifetime achievement award, “I have no qualities that make me stand out, but I may have a special purpose of being where I was meant to be at a given time, . . .I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service in small ways.” 

“Apart from all this work, we must remind ourselves at this time of her infectious smile and warm embrace which also were hallmarks of how she supported us while we worked with her,” Gordo added.

Pasadena Now joins the community in mourning this tremendous loss.  

This is a breaking story,  Pasadena Now will have more information as it becomes available. 

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5 thoughts on “Dolores Hickambottom, 1931-2021

  • What a loss to Pasadena and to those of us who believe in a just and equitable world. Dolores Hickambottom was always friendly, remembered my family (even if she only saw us between election cycles), and we appreciate her dedication to civic and social justice work. Condolences to Dolores’ family, many friends, colleagues, and to anyone who was lucky enough to work alongside this powerhouse.

  • Thank you Janet Shahbazian, Aboulian for your kind words, it is a comfort to our family. Best regards, Ann Marie

  • Thank you Sakae Manning for remembering Mom. Your kind words and condolences are much appreciated. best regards, Ann Marie