Dottie Berger MacKinnon, who died Sunday after a three-year battle with cancer, leaves behind a legacy of selfless public service characterized by both grit and compassion.
Her efforts to help abused and neglected children is unsurpassed in the Tampa Bay area. As a Hillsborough County commissioner, she managed to blend concern for her constituents with fiscal conservatism.
By sheer force of personality, and with an unending source of energy, she raised millions of dollars for institutions that make our community better.
She was one of the founders of Joshua House, a place in Lutz for abandoned and abused kids that survives in part on the endowment Berger MacKinnon built. She founded A Kid’s Place in Brandon for siblings removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
Her dedication to those institutions lasted to the very end, as she spent her final months making certain their missions would continue for many years to come.
“She fought hard for children who had been abused and neglected and for children who really didn’t have a voice.” said Virginia Johnson, executive director of A Kid’s Place.
She also inspired the community by bravely confronting her terminal illness and never slowing down. She defied the odds and lived years beyond the initial diagnosis, giving many people she had touched a chance to say how much she had meant to them.
She leaves behind a more compassionate community than the one she found when she arrived nearly 50 years ago.
It’s a legacy that should humble and inspire us all.