Dorothy Atwood DeBolt
December 29, 1923 – February 24, 2013
Dorothy Atwood DeBolt, known as the supermom and public speaker featured in the Academy Award winning documentary “Who Are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids” died Sunday, February 24.
Dorothy was born to immigrant parents Michael and Esther Nortier in San Francisco on December 29, 1923. As a young woman, she performed as a versatile pianist before she married Ted Atwood and moved to Placerville in the Sierra Nevada foothills. There they had five children and adopted two young boys from Korea. When Ted died in 1963, Dorothy moved to Piedmont, California and discovered a gift for public speaking as she determined to raise her family as a single parent.
After she wed Bob DeBolt in 1970, the couple adopted ten more children and founded AASK (Adopt A Special Kid) in 1973, the first adoption agency in the country to focus on placing special needs children; children like those in their family, including children with physical handicaps, children from abusive homes and war-injured children from Vietnam. AASK was also the first new private adoption agency licensed in California in 63 years.
Using her talent for public speaking, she and Bob advocated for change in adoption to include sibling groups, multi-racial adoptions, and single parent adoptions. Along the way, Dorothy was honored by four U.S. presidents, selected as the first woman in the national Adoption Hall of Fame, given the highest speaking award from the National Speakers Association and numerous honorary degrees and awards.
Dorothy and Bob moved to El Cajon, California in 1987 and found new adventures hiking and traveling around the world.
Since the founding of AASK in 1973, it has placed more than 3,400 special needs children in California and thousands more with AASK offices and affiliates across the country into permanent loving homes.
Dorothy is survived by Bob, her husband of 42 years, her children Mike, Mimi, Stephanie, Noel, Kim, Marty, Melanie, Doni, Ly, Dat, Trang, Phong, Tich, Anh, Reynaldo, Sunee, Karen and Wendy, 27 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren and her brother Art Nortier (Mary Ann).
A public memorial will be held as part of the first Dorothy DeBolt Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk on July 7 in Oakland to benefit AASK. To sign up or to make donations to AASK, please call 888-680-7349 or go online at www.aask.org.