By Crocker Stephenson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 26, 2018
Gloria Dawson was 24 years old when, in the fall of 1990, her mother was bringing potatoes up from the basement of her West Allis, Wisconsin, home, tumbled back down the steps and died.
Grief-stricken, Gloria went to her room and stayed there, venturing out as infrequently as possible.
Gloria was small and fragile. She was born three months prematurely and weighed less than two pounds. Even now, at 51, she’s tiny. Four-foot-four. Sixty-six pounds.
She has Down syndrome and an associated heart condition. Her mother, Claire, and her father, Marty, tried to mainstream Gloria at a nearby elementary school, but the ordinary rambunctiousness of her classmates proved to be too much.
So Gloria stayed home with her mom, dad and older sister, Colleen. At the center of their home was Claire. Claire was its joy and source of laughter. When Claire died, the house grew sad.
Enter the incandescent Rosa Dodd.