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Dolores Winters Ross

She was born in Buffalo, NY.
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A life-long resident of Buffalo, Delores is the daughter of Terry Nathaniel and Virginia Neeley Winters. She received her formative education at school #75 and Hutchinson Central High School. She also earned a degree in business from Bryant and Stratton Business Institute.

Delores worked for more than 25 years as the Secretary for the Office of the Faculty and Professional Senate Office at the University at Buffalo. Upon her retirement, she received a certificate of appreciation for her numerous contributions to the University. While maintaining her position at the University at Buffalo, Delores also worked for the Buffalo Sewer Authority Board. She was the first Black woman to hold the post of secretary with the Authority.

Delores is a sought-after artist who specializes in portraits. Of her artistic talents, Delores notes that she is primarily self-taught and has never taken a class on anatomy. She has been drawing all of her life and has found it to be a true passion. She has painted portraits of most of the pastors in the city of Buffalo. In addition there are countless others who are blessed to have a Delores Ross original of themselves or of their loved ones.

Delores also has a long history of community activism and was a founding member of the Northern Region Black Political Caucus. She is very active in her church, First Shiloh Baptist Church, and is known as the "unofficial artist" of the church.

Delores is the proud mother of three sons, Darryl, Kevin, and Keith. Her family also includes her two sisters, Mildred and Mary.

Life's Portrait: An Original Essay on Dolores Winters Ross
by Tanisha Fordham

When I stop to think about all the artwork I was able to put out there, to the many families and friends, I sincerely feel I have made many a person happy. I have certainly accomplished the one thing I would like for people to remember about me." D.W.R.

Many people have had a great influence on the world. The influence has sometimes started in the individual's own hometown. Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, and Malcolm X are great examples of this. One person who has had a tremendous influence in Buffalo, New York is Dolores Winters Ross.

Dolores Winters Ross has had a great influence in Western New York in the field of art. She decided to become an artist in the early 1950s when she discovered that she could outline the faces of various movie stars, like Marilyn Monroe. Her childhood brought many experiences that contributed to her excitement about art and the joys it could bring. In 1991, she turned her hobby into a business after she retired from work and no longer had the demanding responsibility of motherhood. A conversation with her revealed that she acknowledges God as her number one influence in life, although, her teachers and her son greatly encouraged her as well.
Mrs. Ross in front of a portrait of her sons.

Dolores Winters Ross could be called the "unofficial artist of" the First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. Many of the members at Shiloh have a "Dolores Winters Ross" portrait displayed in their home. She draws pictures of families, individuals, and sometimes, Biblical scenes. Her work has even been displayed at different church functions and in various areas of the church. She draws a Biblical portrait of the lesson for the adult Sunday School class every week. It has been said that you are "somebody" if you have an original Dolores Winters Ross portrait. Her portraits have been given as gifts to many influential people within the church community, including bishops, pastors, music ministers, etc.

Dolores Winters Ross has a great sense of confidence within her, which has helped her in many ways. When asked if she has always been good at art, her reply was, "Yes, I guess I can say I was always good at art even though I thought I enjoyed singing and listening to music a little better than drawing." One of the most astonishing things about Dolores Winters Ross is that she never studies anatomy (the study of the form of certain parts of the body of a plant or animal). Anatomy is a class which is considered necessary for people who want to be serious portrait artists. Yes, Mrs. Ross has mastered the drawing skills necessary to create a life-like portrait of the human face on her own. Most people would find it impossible to draw a realistic portrait of the human face without having been trained. For Mrs. Ross, it simply took a commitment to study, practice, and to work hard.
Mrs. Ross with some of her church artwork. Mrs. Ross with some of her church artwork.

Mrs. Ross also loves to sing. Her high school music teacher tried to pressure her into becoming a singer. She stated, "I have no regrets about becoming an artist in lieu of a singer." Instead, she followed her heart, which took her down a great path. That path has led her to a career where she has realized her greatest accomplishment: being content with who she is.

Dolores Winters Ross has definitely been a great influence in Buffalo, New York. Future artists will look up to her and be inspired by her talent. She cares a great deal about her friends and family, and most importantly, about her relationship with God. Her favorite scripture from the Bible is, "Do what is right; then if men speak against you, calling you evil names, they will become ashamed of themselves for falsely accusing you when you have only done what is good" 1Peter 3:16. She is a great role model and a great person!

I am very concerned about the welfare and happiness of others and what I can do to help them to be happy." D.W.R.

A note about the author: This essay was written by Tanisha Fordham who won first prize in the The Afro-American Historical Society Carter G. Woodson essay Contest for 7th through 9th grade students. Tanisha is the daughter of Sis. Pam Fordham and the granddaughter of Dr. Monroe and Freddie Fordham.