Dorothy E. Nelms, daughter of the late John and Sarah Edwards, was born August 27, 1927, in Jersey City,
New Jersey. She was the oldest of six children born of that union. Dorothy was preceded in death by her
siblings Mary, Sarah, Ernestine, and Henry. She is survived by her brother, John L. Edwards.
Dorothy received her Bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1949, her Master’s degree in Business
Administration from George Washington University and her Doctor of Jurisprudence from George
Washington National Law Center. After 28 years of service as a federal employee, Dorothy retired early
from her position as Director of Personnel at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to
attend law school.
In 1986, Dorothy founded Nelms and Associates, a dynamic management training group that specialized
in Civil Rights Law, Affirmative Action Employment programs, Equal Employment Opportunity and
diversity and team building in the workplace. Nelms and Associates provided counsel not only to federal
government agencies but also to private companies such as the American Savings Bank and the Martin
Marietta Corporation. The firm also serviced non-profit organizations, such as the Business &
Professional Women/USA, National Public Radio, and the National Association of Retired Persons.
Dorothy served as President of the Federally Employed Women (FEW), from 1978-1980 and 1996-1998,
President of Toastmaster’s International Washington DC, and President of the Washington Potomac
While attending Howard University, Dorothy, along with 14 other friends, founded the Carmellilta Card
group of avid Pinochle card players, some of whom remained friends for over 75 years. Dorothy
travelled extensively throughout the United States, Japan, and Europe for speaking and training
engagements, but she also enjoyed travelling with family and friends, especially, the family vacations to
Atlantic City, Fort Lauderdale, and Bethany Beach. She was a “bookworm”, she read countless numbers
of books throughout her lifetime. It was important to her to have a book available to read everywhere
including in her house, car and when she travelled, as she was always entertained by simply reading a
book. Even after retirement, Dorothy continued to take ‘pro bono’ clients and offered her sage legal
advice to those in need of wills and other legal counsel.
Dorothy’s son, Kevin, preceded her death, she is survived by her daughter, Adrienne. She is also survived
by her grandchildren, Nia, Kevin, Dana, and Kareem; great-grandchildren, Evan, Jordan, Justice, Brandon,
Taylor, Meaghan, McKenzie, and Mela; nieces, Dr. Bettina Adjei (George), Dr. Robin Gantt, and nephews,
Haadi Muhammad, Jonathan, and Eric Edwards; great-nieces and nephews, Jenna, Lindsey, Ian, Jordan,
Jonah, Alisha, Ayana, Abdul, and Haadi Jr.
Dorothy will also be deeply missed by her lifelong friends, Ms. Eloise Brown and Ms. Grace Busby and
A Woman of Substance, A Woman of Excellence, Mother, Grandmother, Great – Grandmother, Aunt,
Friend, Colleague, Confidant, Leader, Mentor, Cheerleader for the forgotten, the one who made the
difference, and so much more.
You were our Guiding Light, let it shine so we can walk in your path of excellence.
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