Lauranita Taylor Dugas, Hyde Park educator and social advocate, died on May 20, 2015. She was 88.
Dugas worked for the Head Start Program, the State of Illinois’ Institute for Juvenile Research and for the Chicago Child Care Society as a supervising teacher for 25 years until her retirement. Dugas chaired the Jones-Swift Scholarship fund as part of the Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children, and was a charter member of Working in the Schools (WITS) program for the Chicago Public Schools. She was a member of the Board of Advisors for the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 13 years, where she recently received a distinguished service award for her special contributions and commitment to the school. At the time of her death, she was an Emeritus Board member. She was also a founding member of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Committee, and was active with the Leadership Advisory Committee at the Art Institute of Chicago at the time of her death.
Dugas was the granddaughter of Robert Robinson Taylor, whose likeness was captured for an honorary USPS stamp in February, and who was the first black graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the country’s first academically trained Black architect.
Dugas was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received her B.A. degree in sociology. While there, she met her husband, Lester J. Dugas, an electrical engineering student, whom she married in 1949. They moved to Milwaukee and then to Chicago as they started a family and built careers and a life of civic engagement. In 1999, the Lauranita T. and Lester J. Dugas, Jr. Scholarship, was established at UW-Madison, through which scholarships are awarded to talented minority students who have financial need.
Dugas was the daughter of Dorothy and Robert Rochon Taylor, who served as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority in the late 1940s, and who was credited with establishing standards for public housing in Chicago and nationally. Her sister, Dr. Barbara Bowman, is an early childhood education advocate and co-founder of the Erikson Institute.
Dugas is lovingly survived by three children, Gail D. Dugas, Dr. Jeffrey A. Dugas, Sr. (Tina) and Lauren Dugas Glover (Kenneth); 5 grandchildren, Andrea Dugas Douglas (Christopher), Jeffrey A. Dugas, Jr. (Nakeesha), Evan J. Glover, Jonathan T. Glover and Taylor J. Dugas; 3 great grandchildren, Jordan Douglas, Christopher Jr. Douglas and Sydney Douglas; sister, Dr. Barbara Bowman; sisters-in-law, Dolores Scurlock and Carolyn (John) Viera, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, extended family and a multitude of friends across the U.S., Europe and in Africa.
Visitation is on Thursday, May 28, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Unity Funeral Parlors, 4114 S. Michigan Ave. Her funeral service will be held at St. Paul & the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave., on May 29 at noon. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorial gifts be made to the UW Foundation. Please send your gifts to: The Lauranita Taylor Dugas Fund, UW Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, P.O. Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807. Please make your check payable to the UW Foundation and include “Lauranita Taylor Dugas Fund” on the memo line. Gifts also can be made on-line at myuwconnect.org/give.