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A native of Toledo, Mrs. Bolden was born Sept. 19, 1925, to John and Lillie Maude Chadwell. She graduated from Jesup W. Scott High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the former Tuskegee Institute, where she sang in a choral group under the direction of renowned American composer William Dawson.
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She returned to Toledo after college, and taught in Toledo Public Schools for 40 years, much of that time at the former Gunckel Elementary. Mrs. Bolden later earned a master’s degree from the University of Toledo. Makes changes.
“She had very, very high standards and she wanted to make sure her educational efforts were top-notch, but juxtaposed with that, she enjoyed things almost at the level of a child,” Mr. Chadwell said. “She related to children extremely well. And, while she found opportunities to laugh, that never came at the compromise of what needed to be done.”
“She cared not only for her students, but for all of her friends, with what I would call the joy of a child,” Mr. Chadwell added.
Mrs. Bolden enjoyed the arts, loved music, and was a great supporter of the arts.
“She was always proud that Toledo had a symphony orchestra,” Mr. Chadwell said. “She thought that was fabulous, and she was completely dedicated to sustaining an orchestra primarily in the central city and African-American communities.”
In 2016, she was recognized by St. Martin de Porres Parish with its St. Katharine Drexel Award. Mrs. Bolden helped establish the St. Martin’s neighborhood annual concert, which brought the Toledo Symphony to people who might not otherwise have been exposed to the orchestra.
Liked the symphony
“I have found that with the symphony being in the central city, it has done a lot for the churches,” Mrs. Bolden told The Blade at the time. “They’re more interested in learning about the different types of music. We like gospel, but now we’ve ventured out.”
Mr. Chadwell said his aunt had a love of travel and an uncanny ability to cross paths with celebrities.
He recalled a family trip in the 1960s to see a Cleveland Browns-New York Jets preseason game. The Jets had just signed Joe Namath, and girls were hanging around the hotel where both Mr. Namath and Mr. Chadwell’s family were staying.
“We were in the lobby waiting for my aunt and after a couple turns of the elevator cycle, the doors opened and there she was standing arm in arm with Joe Namath,” he recalled. “He hugged her and she got his autograph.”
On a train trip to Chicago, she wound up having dinner with Oakland Raiders coach John Madden. On a trip to California, she crossed paths with John Wayne and Lou Rawls.
It was her friends and family who meant the most to her, though, he said.
“She had a very giving and caring spirit,” he said. “If a friend of hers had an accomplishment, an achievement, she would enjoy it and celebrate it with the same high spirit as they would. She was very, very encouraging, especially with the kids.”
A member of Third Baptist Church, she married Nelson Bolden, Sr., on Dec. 28, 1947. He died in 1987.
Mrs. Bolden is survived by her son, Nelson II, seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Third Baptist Church, 402 Pinewood Ave., followed by a funeral service at the church at 3 p.m.
The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Toledo.
This story was originally published March 5, 2018 3:13 PM.