Alberta Dunbar, who died of cancer at age 64, is remembered by family and coworkers as a pre-school teacher and mother who made the most of every learning experience. (Photo: Courtesy of the family.)

She loved the three- and four-year-old charges in her class and made sure they were ready for their next learning experiences when the time came.

Alberta V. Dunbar, 64, died of cancer July 8, 2011 at Levine & Dickson Hospice House. She was a teacher at Little Learners Child Development Center and retired in March after 30 years.

“She was a great teacher,” said coworker Carmen Brown, who had known her since 1986. “She always made every moment teachable, from the time she clocked in ‘til the time she clocked out. She encouraged literacy and children reading, and she taught everybody from child to adult. Some brought their own children to be in her classroom.

“She knew how to teach children what they needed to know,” Carmen said. “Most children left her classroom to go to kindergarten or first-grade classes.”

A good, dependable teacher

Little Learners owner Lavern Rabb said that Alberta taught her students the alphabet backwards and forward.

“She knew it would make it easier for them to alphabetize,” Lavern said. “Once they learned it, they never forgot. She also taught them where food comes from. She planted a garden every summer and the children helped. They ate the harvest and took some home to share with the family. She was a good, dependable teacher.”

Alberta, a native Charlottean, attended West Charlotte High School and Central Piedmont Community College. She also had North Carolina teaching credentials.

Alberta raised sons Marvin and Michael and daughters Shelia and Selena on her own. These children have presented her with nine grandchildren.

In her spare time, Alberta loved to read or listen to the soulful songs of Al Green.

“She was also an avid reader of children’s books,” Carmen said.

Sweet, loving woman

“Her quiet spirit and kindness to others” set her apart, said daughter Selena Bennett. “It was good to have a conversation and just be in her presence.”

Son Michael Dunbar said, “She was a loving and sweet woman who cared about everyone. She supported me 100 percent in my 20-year military career. She sent me care packages of family photos and homemade baked goods – that meant a lot.

“She was a good listener to everyone’s problems,” he said. “She would listen, but keep her opinion to herself. She was there to talk to.”

“We talked every night,” said her sister, Mary Holley. “I could tell her anything and know it would not go farther. I once called at midnight and she didn’t feel good, but she went with me to the hospital with my daughter. She would do anything for anybody. She was the sweetest person and my best friend.”

Beautiful spirit

Niece Tameka Holley said her aunt was “A beautiful woman with a nice soul. She was a sweet person with a beautiful spirit and was always happy.”

Vickey Dunbar said her sister-in-law Alberta was strong in character and had a good sense of humor

“She was an all-around lover of people, a sincere, honest person,” Vickey said. “She always smiled and never complained. She was just a good person who made no negative comments. She was a special individual.”

She was special, indeed, and there are many former three- or four-year-olds who know that only too well.

Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.

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