Carlton H. Dotson, a retired spokesman for the Maryland State Lottery and a tennis player who helped integrate the Druid Hill Park tennis courts in the late 1940s, died of complications from a stroke Wednesday at Union Memorial Hospital. A resident of Eutaw Place in Reservoir Hill, he was 82.
Born in Baltimore and known as "Yummy," he was raised on Madison Avenue near Druid Hill Park. He was the son of Charles Edward "Blue" Dotson, a maitre d'hotel and Miller Bros. Restaurant bartender, and Lucille Harde, a homemaker.
Mr. Dotson attended Booker T. Washington Junior High School and was a 1950 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, where he played tennis.
"He grew up in the shadow of the Madison Avenue arches leading to Druid Hill Park," said his sister, Carolyn D. Wainwright of Baltimore. "At an early age, Yummy became interested in tennis. Before high school, he was a fixture on the courts at Druid Hill Park. He was part of the group that demonstrated for equal use of the coveted clay courts that were reserved for whites only. He excelled and went on to win an Eastern Conference NCAA Tennis Championship."
He was also a pioneering African-American student at Suffolk University in Boston, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1954. He pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and was its "polemark," or president.
"He had a lovely personality. He was friendly and had a beautiful smile," said Jean Powell, a retired city Department of Recreation and Parks assistant superintendent who lives in Baltimore. "Through his work in the Baltimore Tennis Club, he helped children learn the sport."
Mr. Dotson was active in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Family members said that he was one of the Freedom Rider who headed to the South to promote integration.
"He made a courageous trip South that ended with a confrontation with some Virginia state troopers who beat him into unconsciousness," his sister said.
His father, who was a member of the Sphinx Club, introduced him to his future wife, Beta Williams, who was a bartender at the club.
His sister said her brother made friends easily and spent time along the historically black Pennsylvania Avenue business and entertainment district.
"He had a flair for salesmanship coupled with an extensive knowledge of many of Baltimore's elite nightspots," she said. "He was selected by Churchill Distributors to become one of their first salespersons of color in the 1960s. He also became a marketing and advertising executive for Ebony magazine."
After the creation of the Maryland State Lottery Commission, Mr. Dotson became its spokesman and met privately with people who won substantial awards. He also appeared in newspaper articles and in television spots.
"In the early years of the Maryland Lottery, he helped overcome resistance to it from those who had grown up participating in the old numbers game," his sister said.
In 2003, Mr. Dotson ran as a Republican for a City Council seat in the newly redistricted 7th District in West Baltimore.
"Despite his novice status in the political arena, he only lost by five votes," his sister said.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Berean Baptist Church, 3523 Hayward Ave.
In addition to his wife of nearly 50 years and his sister, survivors include a son, Jeffery Dotson of Owings Mills; three other sisters, Paula Green, Margaret Henry and Patricia Henry, all of Baltimore; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun