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Prison Rights Activist Dies. Mrs. McCullough was 93.

By Arise Rejoice Media

Dorothy Bishop McCullough
Dorothy Bishop McCullough

The “Mother of Maryland’s inmate population” has died. Dorothy Bishop McCullough, a long time Baltimore City employee, passed on February 21st at Bon Secours Hospital. She was 93 years old.

It was a sparkling and radiant day on the twentieth of July in 1929, when Dorothy Lorraine Bishop McCullough arrived as one of the four children that Edward and Mary Bishop would bring into the world before and during an economic depression that nearly brought life for many to a standstill.

But the Bishops, with faith and great purpose, moved forward and their four children, Sarah, George, Dorothy and Mildred survived the global shortage of food and capital as their parents sacrificed, all the while caring for, and loving their children.

It was mandated in the Bishop house-hold that children attend school, and pursue education with a high degree of excitement and diligence. They were taught to have purpose and to avoid idleness and directionless people.


When it was time to enter high school, Dorothy chose George Washington Carver where she studied sewing with a dream of becoming a master seamstress, weaving individual pieces of material together in an effort to make them whole.

After completing her education and working in an unrewarding jobs she decided to department Baltimore and travel to New York City, where worked in the garment district as a seamstress. Years later she would return home to help care for her ailing father. Her mother had passed years earlier.

Soon after returning to Baltimore, she went to work for the city where she was employed by the Community Action Agency, beginning as a Neighborhood Development Assistant. She quickly became known as someone who was interested in restoring the lives of neglected young people and rebuilding broken communities.

While raising her daughter, Gwendolyn, in the Gilmor Homes Housing Development, she formed an organization for young people, hosting talent contests, picnics and other activities. It was not long because she was elected president of Model Cities Council D which she and her vice-president, Ms. Bertie Montague, ruled with an iron fist.

It was in the Gilmor Homes that Mrs. McCullough started a program that would impact the lives of thousands of young men incarcerated in Maryland penal institutions. She learned of the need for prison volunteers while listing to a radio broadcast.


She recruited mothers, and worked with others who were committed to social change such as Mrs. Walia Bland, the founder of the Flair Modeling Studios, and Father Damien Nalepa, the beloved pastor of St. Gregory’s Roman Catholic Church.

Together with Mrs. Bland and Mrs. Gwenn Patillo, fashion shows were launched for inmates in the state penitentiary in Baltimore, and in the medium security unit in Jessup, Maryland. There were times when Mrs. McCullough was in a Maryland Prison institution assisting inmates four days each week.

In 1982 more than one hundred inmates at the Jessus prison Institution sponsored a three-hour dinner program that honored Mrs. McCullough. Held in the intuition, it was called “This is your life, Dorothy.” She was treated to a plethora of gifts and tributes, including ones from the Governor of Maryland, William Donald Schaefer; her Congressman, Kweisi Mfume; and her state senator, Troy Brailey.

The inmates, immaculate in rented tuxedos were joined by their wives and significant others who dressed in magnificent ball gowns. Months later Mrs. McCullough was featured in a Baltimore Magazine where she was referred to as the “mother of Maryland’s inmates.”

In 1987, she married William McCullough, and they began a wonderful love story. They comforted each other until his passing in 2012. A Navy veteran, Mr. McCullough was a milk delivery man, and a tavern owner. She will be buried next to him in a shared grave in the Veteran’s Cemetery.


Mrs. McCullough found able legal counsel for many of the inmates that she worked with, and assisted their families in acquiring the assistance of elected officials such as Congressman Mfume , state senator Brailey and United States Congresswoman and Senator Barbara Milkuski. She was often asked to run for elected office, but she declined, saying that her work was on the pavements of Baltimore.

After her retirement from the city of Baltimore she and her husband frequently traveled to Atlantic City where she delighted in her battles with the one armed bandits that lined the casinos. She loved to win and dreaded losing.

She enjoyed living in ‘Stadium Place’ and often sponsored birthday parties and holiday gatherings for her fellow residents. It was something that she enjoyed, that she looked forward to hosting, which gave her meaning.

After the passing of her husband, her daughter, Gwendolyn, became her principal caregiver, helping her mother to manage her medications and her frequent doctor’s visits that came with age and declining health. For more than a decade Mrs. McCullough was a resident of Stadium Place. She spent her last two years at Future Care near Good Samaritan Hospital.

Predeceased by her husband, her parents and her siblings, Sarah, Mildren, George and Alfred, Mrs. McCullough is survived by one daughter, Gwendolyn; one son, Joseph; one daughter-in-law, Trudi; one grandson, Daniel; three stepsons, Anthony, Purnell and Delcarlo; one step-daughter, Adrian; seven nephews, fifteen nieces and a host of family members and friends.


In addition she leaves behind a number of special friends that include Mother Ella Peoples, Shirley Ray, Ellen Swann, Brenda Wood, Betty Murchison, Gwenn Patillo, Charletta Jackson, Rita Wood, Renee Patillo and Judy Chase and former Maryland State Senator Joan Conway.

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