Remembering Obdulia “Dolly” Rigor Castillo (Feb. 9, 1924-March 20, 2022)
We mourn the passing of Obdulia “Dolly” Rigor Castillo, affectionately called, “Auntie Dolly”, who passed away on March 20, 2022, at the age of 98. Auntie Dolly was a Pinay–Filipina American–pioneer educator, mentor, author, and leader in Seattle like no other. Did you grow up in Seattle and learn Tinikling (a Philippine folk dance, where you jump between clapping bamboos) in Gym class? You can thank Auntie Dolly for that, as she was one of the first Filipino American Physical Education teachers for Seattle Public Schools and introduced a multicultural curriculum in the 1970s. Thousands of students and families were undoubtedly touched by Auntie Dolly’s teachings and influence. In 1972, Auntie Dolly and other educators founded the Filipino American Educators of Washington, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships and professional development for Filipino Americans. She taught many children, teens, and young adults Philippine folk dances through her Immaculata Dance Troupe after school dance program, and the Fil-Am Barangay Dance Company that she founded.
Auntie Dolly was a friend of my parents; she was elected President of the Filipino Community of Seattle a few years after my father was. They would all sing and dance together at Filipino community functions and at the International Drop-In Center, where, in her retirement, Auntie Dolly became the IDIC Activities Coordinator.
My fondest memory of Auntie Dolly was when she lovingly taught 18 of my closest friends and me traditional Philippine cotillion dances for my 18th Birthday Debut. We only had one practice before the event, but Auntie Dolly was an excellent, energetic teacher with a quick wit. When the teenage boys were tripping over their feet and not so enthusiastic about waltzing, bowing, and twirling, Auntie Dolly clapped her hands, gently pinched their cheeks, and said, “You can do it! You are all smart and fast learners, you will make us all proud!” After the dance, which all 18 did flawlessly, my friends said, “Auntie Dolly was right! We learned it in a day and did it!” She taught us to be proud of our Filipino culture and dedicated her life to educating others. I’m sure many of you have more fond memories of Auntie Dolly; please feel free to share them here.
Auntie Dolly published three books, including two children’s books and her memoir, Raindrops. In 2015, our Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) National Office awarded her the FANHS Mars Rivera Community Service Award, for her decades of service to the community.
Rest in Peace, Auntie Dolly. My parents are saving a dance for you in heaven. Thank you for everything you did for me, my family, and our community. Sending love, prayers, and condolences to Mimi Castillo, Gabe Castillo, Uncle Sluggo Rigor, your entire family, and all who loved you.
FANHS National President
Mimi Castillo’s Eulogy at 1:00:30