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Perseverance leads to success for 102-year-old on Election Day

December 09, 2004|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - Clarence Dorrier was 22 years old when he registered to vote in 1923. Proud of his faithful record of voting in general elections, all that might have come to an end in 2004 without the help of a great-niece and a member of the Washington County Board of Elections.

Karen Sherwood said her 103-year-old great-uncle had requested an absentee ballot be mailed to him shortly after his 98-year-old sister, Marie, passed away in August. But time passed and no ballot was received. So on Election Day, Sherwood drove her great-uncle to the polls in Hancock.

"They looked him up and said that an absentee ballot had been sent to him even though I told them he never received it," Sherwood said.

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He became aggravated with the process so she took him back home and began telephoning the Washington County Board of Elections to find out how Dorrier could be able to vote despite of the mix-up.

Before the day was over, John Barr, an elections board member, went to the Dorrier home west of Hancock with an absentee ballot, Sherwood said.

"What a pleasure it was for me to do that for him," said Barr, who was at Greenbrier Elementary School near Boonsboro when notified of the problem Nov. 2.

Barr drove back to the Board of Elections office in Hagerstown, got the absentee ballot and all the necessary authorization and headed for Hancock.

"He voted for president and some other Republicans who were running. He didn't know anyone in some local races so he didn't vote for them," Sherwood said.

"Yes, I knew Bush was the one in now ... I knew he was president," Dorrier said as he sat in a chair in the kitchen of the farmhouse he has called home since 1925.

As for his party affiliation, Dorrier said his whole family was Republican so he registered as one, too.

Dorrier said he always has gone to the polls, starting in 1924 when Calvin Coolidge was the Republican running for president.

"I don't think I've ever missed since," he said.

Dorothy Kaetzel, election director for the Washington County Board of Elections, was able to confirm that Dorrier first registered to vote in October 1923. Her active files, which date to 1966, indicate he hasn't missed voting in a general election in the past 38 years.

After Election Day, Dorrier settled back into his daily routine and awaited his 103rd birthday, which he celebrated Nov. 9.

A citation was sent from the governor's office marking Dorrier's longevity.

Sherwood said Dorrier received 37 cards, all of which are posted on the wall in the kitchen.

"There were about 35 people here that day," Sherwood said. Around 6 p.m. - Dorrier's regular bedtime - he just went upstairs to bed while his guests were still there.

Dorrier lived with his sister Marie in the home their family purchased in 1925, planting a garden every spring in front of the home until a few years ago.

Dorrier has been a lifelong member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hancock, a church his father helped build. He still attends church in warmer weather, Sherwood said.

Active in the community, Dorrier is one of the oldest active members of the Maryland State Farm Bureau and helped organize the Hancock Grange.

His favorite saying is "I eat good, I sleep good and nothing hurts."

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