Dorothy Holt died April 29. She was 73.

With a personality, character, and inner strength as fierce as her red hair, Dorothy Ellen Morrissey Szekely Holt lived life on her terms, determined to blow past every goal post set for her and surpassing everyone’s expectations. She went by many names and wore many hats. Dot, Dots, Dotsy Motsy, Aunt Dottie, Dottie Karate, Red Dot, Mama Dot, Red, Grandma Dot, D, and Gigi. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a high school dropout, a wife, mother, community volunteer, GED candidate, college student, a graduate student (twice), professor, business school administrator, widow, teacher, grandmother, fighter, warrior, and an inspiration to everyone whose path she crossed.

She was born Jan. 2, 1948, the second of four children, to William Patrick Morrissey of Cobh, Ireland and Mary Agnes Morrisey of the Bronx, N.Y., She enjoyed a childhood filled with the love of her devoted parents, and the simple pleasures of bike rides, summer swims in the Long Island Sound, family gatherings and making the best out of the little they had. At age 14 her world changed with the tragic death of her mother, beginning what would be a lifetime of challenges that Dorothy would stare in the face and overcome with tenacity.

Struggling to raise her two younger brothers, maintain a household and finish her education, something had to give, so she left school without a high school diploma. She cooked, cleaned, got a job and paid rent to her father to help him make ends meet. Along the way she fell for a handsome air force veteran, James Z. Szekely Jr., whom she married in 1970. They raised two children.

She earned her GED as a working mother, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from The Audrey Cohen College (now Metropolitan College of New York), and two master’s degrees from Fordham University and the City College of New York. She worked at a community service organization, as a graduate business school administrator at Fordham University and later at Seton Hall University, and as a crime victim’s advocate.

In 1998, after 28 years of marriage, her beloved husband Jim was lost at sea while fishing off the coast of Montauk. With family rallying behind her, Dorothy weathered this unimaginable storm of grief, rising to reinvent herself again. In 2002 she became a New York city teaching fellow and taught third grade at P.S. 85 in the Bronx, working there until her retirement in 2013.

She met Robert Holt of West Tisbury online in 2004, a sailor, U.S. Navy veteran and retired teacher. They dated long distance until he proposed in 2010. In 2013 they married.

Dorothy was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in 2014. Determined to beat the odds, she began to once again kick ass and take names. She endured surgery and multiple treatments, always guided by her mantra: “Don’t give up. Don’t give in.”

More than just a survivor and a fighter, she was a best friend, comforting shoulder to cry on, original life coach, life of the party, and the last person on the dance floor.

In addition to her adoring husband; she is survived by her children Denice and Jim and their respective partners, Steve and Christina; her stepchildren Ronald and his wife Louisa, Rob and his wife Monica, and Briana; grandchildren Myles, James, Theodore, Ryan and Benjamin; siblings Dianne, Michael and William; sisters in law Carol, Edel and Christine; brother in law Ed; and innumerable nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues, whose lives are all the better for her having played a part.

A funeral mass was held May 7 at St. Frances de Chantal Church in the Bronx.

Donations can be made to Angel Flight, Northeast, 492 Sutton St., North Andover MA 01845, or Care Dimensions Hospice House, 125 Winter St., Lincoln, MA 01773.