She held true to 'passion for justice.'
By Ron Devlin Special to The Morning Call
When Dorothy Roth turned 80 a few years ago, local author
Richard K. Brunner wrote a tribute in which he called her ''the lady with the
Brunner's words could easily serve as an epitaph for Roth, 83, who died Tuesday evening at the
Practically from the day she arrived in
Her causes, which included better treatment for sex offenders and drug addicts, were not always popular. But for nearly six decades, Roth stood as a kind of moral compass, advocating an idealism based in an enduring respect for humanity.
''She would always speak up for the underdog, taking on challenges others were afraid to fight for,'' recalled Robert Csandl, a friend and fellow advocate. ''Dorothy's humanity showed through everything she did.''
Jack McHugh of
''If ever there was a person with a humanitarian heart, it was Dorothy Roth,'' said McHugh, a former Lehigh County Commissioner. ''A shining star has been put out; she was a true Renaissance woman.''
Roth's activism was rooted in her native
For many years, she would talk of apartheid to clients at Treatment Trends, an
''Our clients would listen intently,'' recalled Csandl, Treatment Trends director. ''They would hold on to every word. They cherished what she had to say.''
Roth was a board member of Confront and its successor Treatment Trends since 1969. Despite increasing frailty in the last two years, she fought for her longtime goal of opening a detoxification center in the
Roth was 22 when she came to
The Roths had two daughters — Yolanda Roth Moyer, an orthopedic surgeon in
''Our mother had this driving vision where the rights and wrongs are,'' said Moyer. ''It was a vision that had nothing in it for her, except the satisfaction of having improved society.''
Roth took her case to the public in hundreds of what she called ''epistles,'' letters to the editor to The Morning Call. Recently catalogued, they fill several volumes of scrap books.
The Morning Call twice honored her in its ''Thank You For Writing'' event. ''Tempo,'' WLVT-TV's news magazine show, did a segment on her letter writing in November.
Roth, an accomplished painter and sculptor who once headed the Baum School of Art, took aim at
She leveled a barrage of criticism over the aesthetic of sculptures donated to the city by the late Phil and Muriel Berman, and locked horns with the late Allentown Councilwoman Emma Tropiano over the proposal to declare English the city's official language.
Roth told the story of her life in an unpublished memoir, ''Love Safari.''
Brunner, who edited the memoir, sensed Roth was an
extraordinary human being from the start of their friendship.
''Her compassion for the helpless and her passion for justice caused her to ride many a hobby horse that — sometimes unpopular — has bolted, thrown and bruised her,'' Brunner wrote in his tribute. ''But her indomitable spirit compelled her to remount and gallop back into the fray.''
Ron Devlin is a freelance writer.