Madelyne Lolita Lightbourne was born in a Harlem apartment on Jan 16, 1929, to Victoria Lolita (née Thompson) and Richard Samuel Lightbourne. She was the eighth of nine children and the youngest girl. Her two oldest brothers Jack and Livingston died before Lolita was born but she, Richard Jr., Florence, Bertram, Gloria, Gertrude, and Walter had a strict Caribbean upbringing in various locations throughout Harlem. Victoria was a homemaker while Richard worked as a merchant seaman, railroad porter and later a building superintendent. Lolita was baptized at St. Martin's Episcopal church and later the family regularly attended Mt. Olivet Baptist church. Lolita was educated by the New York City school system attending Wadleigh/Washington Irving High School for Girls. She and her sisters preferred their middle names and decided early on to make that their monikers. The Lightbourne sisters liked to enter dance competitions at popular Harlem ballrooms and they won!
In the 1940s Lolita met Morris Valentino Dunlop, from the Virgin Islands, at a church social and married soon after. On June 24, 1946, Lolita gave birth to her first child, Morris Valentino Jr. and in 1949 Tyrone David followed. Lolita and Morris moved to a home on Hoyt Street in Brooklyn. The girls Denise Daisy, and Darlene Frances came along in 1951, and 1954,respectively. The family later settled in a house in Flushing, Queens. Lolita worked part-time at a nursing home and then full-time in the garment district while Morris worked as a mail clerk for the post office. Unfortunately, the couple divorced in the 1970s. Eventually, Lolita moved to the Bronx and continued working full-time to care for her family, which now included grandchildren. She worked at an automobile dealership, finally retiring in 1991.
Lolita remained busy by occasionally administrating state and city exams and as an election poll worker. She was proud to serve and participate in the election of President Barack Obama. Lolita attended St. Paul’s Lutheran church until its closure in 2017. She was an active member organizing fundraisers and selecting Easter and Christmas flowers for the parish. Lolita enjoyed traveling and reading celebrity biographies and fiction by Black authors. To keep her mind active, she would complete word search and fill-in puzzles and play color by number, bingo and pool games on her tablet.
Lolita liked to laugh and just enjoy life. She loved cooking for social gatherings where she'd get the party started with a dance. Harry Belafonte, The Mighty Sparrow, Lou Rawls, James Brown and the Electric Slide would surely get Lolita on her feet.
She liked to watch her “stories” – General Hospital, All My Children, and One Life to Live were the staples. Most recently, reruns of Girlfriends and The Parkers would make her giggle. She also had quite a green thumb. She loved her plants and has cared for the same one for over thirty-five years. Generations of hands have been popped for touching it!
Lolita was often described as one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Her supportive, nurturing demeanor was why people were drawn to her. With a joyful spirit, generous soul and a kind heart, Lolita was always there to lend a helping hand, often making selfless sacrifices for her loved ones. She would visit ailing family and friends in the hospital and stay all day. If you lost something, she would still be searching long after you’ve given up. Lolita was an elegant woman and always had a great sense of style, which often included red, one of her favorite colors, along with chic wigs and snazzy (her word) shoes.
Lolita had a calm, patient, and balanced manner that displayed an aura of sophistication and class but she also had a spicy side that was sharp, quick-witted, funny, sassy, and flirty. She ran a tight ship with a firm, loving hand and was a strong-willed, quiet fighter. She was well-respected and one look from her or "I’m gonna tell Grandma!" would stop any of us in our tracks. She truly cherished and appreciated her family and friends and showed it. She greeted everyone with conversation, open arms and a warm smile and became everyone's Grandma.
As she aged, she remained cognizant and in good spirits. Even while unwell, she still prioritized her family by assuring us that she was okay. Lolita was the matriarch and backbone of the family and her example is where we gather our strength during this difficult time. Lolita passed peacefully at her home of forty-nine years with family, just as she desired. We feel blessed to have had Lolita enrich our lives for almost ninety-five years, slowing down in only the last few. She will live on through our precious memories and we will forever carry with us her beautiful spirit and energy.
As the last of her generation to transition, Lolita joins her parents, siblings, eldest son, Val, daughter-in-law, Deneane Dunlop, niece, Cheryl Lightbourne, nephews Dennis Chambers, Bill Chambers, Earl Lightbourne, Richard Lightbourne, Shavah Howell, and many close friends who proceeded her in death. Lolita is survived by her children Tyrone, Denise and Darlene, ten grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren and three great-greatgrandchildren as well as a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. We will forever miss her.