Dorothy Vickers-Shelley was born in 1934 to Thaddaeus George and Thelma Louise Vickers in Detroit, Michigan. She married Clarence Shelley in 1957, which ended in divorce. She majored in Elementary Education at Wayne State University in Detroit. Later, she came to Urbana, Illinois and attended the U of I Urbana-Champaign campus. There, she received her degree in Library Science.
Dorothy Vickers-Shelley worked as an elementary school librarian for thirty-three years, retiring in 2003. She worked daily, helping in various ways to expand young minds. She reminded students that the most precious and powerful gift that we will ever own is the mind. Since 1976, all library classes opened with the 'Ignorance and Fear' statement: "Life is short. Therefore, I shall be a crusader in the fight against ignorance and fear, beginning with myself." Dorothy enjoyed working with young minds very much: “We helped each other to learn," she said. The statement was not a reminder just for students, but for all of us.
During her many years there, she endeared herself to many of her students, some of whom became parents of her later students. As a dedicated teacher in the library, she always commanded respect and because she cared, she gave that same respect to her students, always taking time to listen to them. This has been very evident from all the letters of praise and fond memories she has received from so many of her former students.
Dorothy was a Lifetime Member of the NAACP, and was also a member of the following: Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, the Champaign County Section of the National Council for Negro Women, Delta Sigma Theta, National Education Association, Illinois Education Association, Champaign Library Board, Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund, and Busey Bank’s Community Re=Investment Act Advisory Scholarship Committee. She also enjoyed playing the piano, learning to tap dance at age 45, and all music from Motown to Opera.
Dorothy Vickers-Shelley passed away in 2009. She was survived by her two daughters, Dana Vickers-Shelley from Baltimore, MD and Pamela-Alyse Vickers Shelley from Urbana, one brother, Ronald, a nephew, and her former husband. In 2015, the Champaign Unit 4 School District named the school library at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy after Dorothy Vickers-Shelley.