Odis Dolton – Chief Social Worker
By Kathy Barr
When Odis Debolancy Dolton III moved to Abilene from Greenville, MS to attend Abilene Christian College, he probably did not realize the incredible impact he would have on the city.
But ask anyone who knew him, and they would assure you that the man’s influence was profound. He worked for the City of Abilene for 19 years, 15 of those years as Assistant Director of Finances, and then as the Assistant Director of Code Compliance and the Office of Neighborhood Services. Previous to his work with the city of Abilene, he also worked with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Abilene State School.
The Office of Neighborhood Services administers the Critical Repair Program, the First Time Homebuyer Program, and the Single Family Rehabilitation Program. According to City Manager, Robert Hanna, Odis helped residents who needed to make critical home repairs but could not afford to make them to get the help they needed.
Anthony Williams, Mayor of Abilene, said “No individual has had a greater impact than Odis. He helped groups find their mission….Rocks get a lot of attention; there are a lot more pebbles. Odis was a pebble…..he spoke for individuals without a voice.” The Mayor emphasized the influence Dolton had on Abilene.
“No one had a greater impact than Odis,” he said…”That is not an exaggeration on the impact he made on the community.”
City Manager, Robert Hanna, made these comments about Dolton. “He made a daily commitment to help others, people sought him out, and he relayed their fears and concerns to City Hall.” Hanna also said that Dolton provided advocacy for groups that needed it.
Joe Starkey, who covered many events that Odis was present at for the West Texas Tribune had this to say.
“I don’t have any childhood stories. I don’t have any ball player stories. I don’t have any stories of struggles. All I have is the memory of a man who was a Gentleman the first time I met him and all the other times our paths crossed. First, Last and Always a Gentleman. Rest in Peace.”
Dolton graduated with a B.S. degree in Social Work from Abilene Christian College, and later got his Masters degree in Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX.
Some of the organizations he was involved with included the Abilene Black Men’s Breakfast, Connecting Caring Communities, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the NAACP and the Mental Health Association. In addition to the many contributions he made to the city, he was also the loving husband to Pamela, his wife of 42 years, father to their four children, grandfather to eighteen grandchildren and great-grandfather to nine great-grandchildren.