LGBTQ+ Pioneer Dolores Noll Memorial to be Held Feb. 11

It is with heavy and reverent hearts that we share news that Emeritus English Professor Dr. Dolores Noll, trailblazer and pioneer for LGBTQ+ rights and people, passed away at the age of 88 on January 8th. Dolores’s impact is seen today at Kent State University.

In the 1970’s she cofounded the Kent Gay Liberation Front, currently known as PRIDE!Kent, and taught one of the first LGBTQ Studies courses ever to be offered, in 1972. She continued to teach LGBTQ Studies classes at Kent State until her retirement in 1984. She returned from retirement in 2011 for eight months to serve as the interim director of the LGBTQ Student Center.

"Dolores will be remembered as someone who cared deeply and passionately about people and justice," Dr. Molly Merryman, director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, said. "Her activism and legacy speak to that. As we remember Dolores, an LGBTQ+ elder and ancestor, we strive to continue her work."

To honor the life and legacy of Dr. Dolores Noll, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the LGBTQ Student Center are jointly hosting a memorial on Monday, February 11 from 4-6 pm in the Kent State LGBTQ Student Center. All who remember Dolores or who have otherwise been impacted by her legacy are invited to attend to share stories and celebrate the life of an important pioneer in LGBTQ rights.

Noll was born August 14, 1930 in Fairfield, Iowa, and raised in Berea, KY. She was one of two children of Waldemere and Nell Scovel Noll. Her parents and sister, Leonore Walters, preceded her in death. She received a Bachelor’s degree with Honors from the University of Florida in 1951, an MA in 1954 and Ph.D. in 1964 (both from the University of Kentucky).

She started as an instructor in the English Department in 1961, and became an assistant professor upon completion of her doctorate. She additionally served as the Assistant to the Chair of English from 1978 until her retirement as an associate professor in 1984. After her retirement she served as an emeritus member of the university faculty. She was well published in scholarly journals of both medieval literature and LGBTQ Studies. She taught three different LGBTQ Studies classes at Kent State University, including the first in 1972, which is the first year any LGBTQ Studies courses were taught in the United States.

Noll was also the founding advisor of the Kent Gay Liberation Front (now named PRIDE! Kent), which is the oldest continuously operating university LGBTQ student organization. Her role in establishing and co-coordinating the national Gay Caucus of the Modern Language Association was recognized with the establishment of the Crompton-Noll award, that recognizes the work of LGBTQ scholarship within the MLA.

She and her partner of 37 years, Pat Hatfield, met at Kent State University. They recently lived in an assisted living center in South Carolina as Noll lived with severe dementia at the end of her life.

She was a member of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio, and when she lived in the area was actively involved in church activities and speaking to the congregation.

In 2010, Noll was honored with Kent State University’s first Diversity Trailblazer Award. 

For more information, contact Dr. Molly Merryman, director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, mmerryma@kent.edu

POSTED: Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 10:36am
UPDATED: Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 10:37am
WRITTEN BY:
College of Arts and Sciences