Dorothy "Dottie" Oliver died on May 18, 2020, peacefully at her home in Durham, N.H. She was the founder of the Adult Learning Center in 1972. Dottie was a passionate believer in the power of adult education. She saw academic support and mentorship as the key to lifting people – especially women – out of a cycle of low-wage jobs and dependence and into a world of meaningful employment and self-worth. 

According to former ALC Executive Director Mary Jordan, “ Dottie was a true visionary. She saw a need to close the education gap for adults, and started a non-profit agency that has endured and become a mainstay of the greater Nashua community. She also recognized that many adults couldn't attend school unless we provided quality, affordable childcare ; her vision became a beacon of education for the entire family.”  
Dottie believed that by becoming employed and self-sufficient, people can discover their own dignity and make their own special contributions to a healthy, prosperous community. “She was also personable, kind and gracious,” according to Executive Director Carol Baldwin who recalls how warmly Dottie greeted her when she was hired in 2014. “The affection and the admiration we all share for Dottie is immeasurable. Our staff is honored to continue her legacy of optimism about lifelong learning and her dedication to literacy and academic success.”

Dottie earned a teaching certificate at the University of Denver in 1963. She discovered that adult education was her true passion while teaching GI’s at night in Germany.

After moving to Nashua, she founded the Adult Learning Center in 1972 to serve the 28% of the city population who had not completed high school. When she left 13 years later, she had initiated 14 different programs for undereducated and low income adults including an alternative school for teens, a GED program, programs for speakers of other languages, a displaced homemaker program, as well as job training and childcare programs.

Between 1985 and 1998, she participated in developing the Literacy Theater, a literacy awareness and staff training program. This acting troupe traveled to 47 states to perform skits and mentor adult educators. Dottie authored "Literacy Theater," a guide for this training that detailed her experiences and insights about adult education.

In 1999, Dottie became the Bureau Chief for the State of Education Division, responsible for the implementation of the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In 2001, this act was reauthorized as “No Child Left Behind.” She worked on implementing this law in New Hampshire until she retired in 2005.

According to her family, Dottie’s proudest accomplishment remains the founding of the Adult Learning Center, which has become a vibrant and vital part of the greater Nashua community.

In lieu of gifts and flowers, Dottie requested that donations be sent to the Adult Learning Center, 4 Lake St., Nashua, NH, 03060.

Please click on the link below:


  • Adult Learning Center, started by Dorothy Oliver, opens at First Baptist Church, 43 Main Street
  • English as a Second Language, Adult Basic Education, and Home Management classes are offered; Bookkeeping classes are planned 
  • Childcare is staffed by volunteers
  • Secretary is a volunteer

Today, the Adult Learning Center’s programs encompass the entire community, from infants, to at-risk youth, to adult learners of all nationalities and backgrounds. All programs share a common goal of building independence, self-sufficiency and success.  

Adult Learning Center
Nashua, New Hampshire