Publisher Dorsey remembered as a gentleman

October 19, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Ralph Meade Dorsey, former owner and publisher of the Spirit of Jefferson Farmers' Advocate who died Saturday at age 88, was remembered Monday by friends and family as "one of the last Southern gentlemen and a man who made everyone around him feel comfortable."

Dorsey died from pancreatic cancer at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center only four days after the disease was diagnosed, said Honnor Dorsey, his wife of 37 years. He had been ill for several weeks, she said.

Dorsey was born June 15, 1921, in Berryville, Va.. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1942, joined the U.S. Navy and served as the captain of a minesweeper in the Pacific during World War II.

After the war, he served on the staff of U.S. Rep Alburtus Harrison, who represented the upper Shenandoah Valley. He joined the U.S. Army in 1949, his wife said, and retired in 1969 at the rank of full colonel.


His father, Ralph Nicholas Dorsey, and a brother ran an orchard in the Winchester area. His father also owned the weekly Spirit newspaper in Charles Town, W.Va., which Dorsey took over in the late 1970s, his wife said.

He sold the paper in 1996, retired and took up an old love -- golf.

"He had a great passion for golf and he played a lot," she said.

Once he started to volunteer to drive people to medical appointments for Good Shepherd Interfaith Caregivers, golf began to take a back seat, she said.

"He really loved that and was driving people practically every day," she said.

Dorsey often drove local patients to medical appointments in Morgantown, W.Va., and waited to take them back home, said Stan Jones of Shepherdstown, a friend of the Dorseys. "People could always count on Meade for whatever they needed. They would go to Meade because they saw him as always being thoughtful and wise."

"Meade was the personification of an honorable man," said Dabney Chapman, another friend.

"He was mild-mannered, kept appointments and was of firm character," said Chapman, who knew of Dorsey's work as a charter member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club. 

Dorsey managed the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester for a few years, Chapman said.

"I never heard Meade speak sharply or badly about anyone," said Philip Coffey, who, like Dorsey, was a driver for Good Shepherd Interfaith Caregivers. "Meade was one of the last southern gentlemen."


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