New Jersey says ‘farewell’ to a pioneer – Deloris Dockrey

Deloris Dockrey
Deloris Dockrey

Obituary—Deloris Dockrey

It’s with deep sadness that we share the news of Hyacinth Foundation advocate Deloris Dockrey’s passing at the age of 60 due to complications of COVID-19. Deloris was an advocate, a friend to many, and a poet. On the social app Twitter, Governor Phil Murphy said of Dockrey, “A giant: Deloris Dockrey, who was a champion and role model for countless women living with HIV. She was a leader at the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, where she worked for the past 15 years. With her most recent service coming at the Hyacinth Health and Wellness Center in Newark.”

“You know, I know people down South and in Africa know my work—I guess it’s time that New Jersey does too.” – Doloris Dockrey

“Dockrey found out about her HIV status in 1994 and never allowed her diagnosis to hinder her in any way or to become a stigma,” said Murphy. “Instead, she became a pinnacle for people that were just like her.”

“In addition to her work at the Hyacinth Foundation, she was active in multiple advocacy groups for those living with HIV and quickly garnered a reputation that was recognized both nationally and around the world. She represented North America on the International Steering Committee on the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.”

Dockrey was also the first woman to chair the Global Network of people living with HIV/AIDS. Dockery helped create Leadership Hyacinth, a leadership program designed to raise the participation in advocacy efforts by staff, clients, and other stakeholders in HIV/AIDS policy. Dockrey personally trained many advocates, which fostered them finding their voices and fighting for those in need.

Here’s an original poem that was written by Dockrey, titled “How do you Love Yourself!” that was shared during Love Positive Women (LPW), a project that utilizes social media to link local grassroots gestures of love, and creating a platform for individuals and communities to engage in a public and private acts of love, and caring for women living with HIV in today’s society.

“How do you love yourself!
When you are told that you are worthless, no good and lazy.
When you are told that you are fat and useless.
When you begin to internalize people’s opinion of you.
You rise above people’s opinions, and you rely on you.
You see the beauty in your life.
You see the joy of your family.
You experience the love of family, and you revel in their warmth.
You reaffirm that you are kind and caring and that you support your family.
You know you are always willing to help others.
You know you share your gifts and talents.
You see the beauty in your life.
You experience the love of your son.
You see his love for you and
You know, love!
You begin to reflect the love you see, and
You begin to experience that love for yourself.
You begin to see the joy, the courage, the heart that is you.
You begin to love you! You are love!

“My name is Deloris. I am a survivor of early childhood sexual trauma, and I am a woman living with HIV. At 59 years old, I have become very reflective of my journey to find joy in my life,” Dockrey said last year. “In 1994 at age 35, my hope was shaken when I found out I was HIV positive. I had not considered that I was at risk for HIV. After 24 years, it is still very difficult to express how shaken, devastated, and angry I was with that diagnosis. I felt that all my hopes were dashed. I have come to learn that my desire to live and the deep desire to raise my son sustained and strengthened me. HIV changed my life! My now-deceased mother told me that when life gives you lemons—you make lemonade!”

A spokesperson for the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation said, “We all are fortunate to have had Deloris in our lives. Her smile and her heart will be missed by us all. She was a true [s]hero.”

She is survived by her son, Philip, and her extended family.