Forks in the Road: Mary and Jack Dorsey left their mark on Port City

Mary and Jack Dorsey.

There are very few people to whom when referred, you always use their first and last names. Like Mary Dorsey — Mary (Emerson) Dorsey.

Mary and her husband, Jack, whose  roots were on the west side of Syracuse, moved to Oswego where Jack became the director of the Social Security office for many years. Jack was related to the famed Syracuse Walsh family as well as the Oswego Dorsey clan.  Mary and Jack lived on Gregory Street, where they raised two daughters, Maggie and Mali. The Dorsey girls were contemporaries of my two oldest daughters, Kathleen and Sierra, and have become lifelong friends. Sierra and Mali intensely enjoyed their Barbie doll days, and their friendship became lifelong.

They attended St. Mary’s school together, and Mary and my wife Charlotte worked on the school board. Mary also headed up the Girl Scout chapter at St. Mary’s, and was a great event organizer. The Girl Scout motto applies to Mary Dorsey for sure. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” As the girls grew, Mary Dorsey took a job with the Oswego County personnel office, and then later worked at SUNY Oswego. Mary was a volunteer and a member of the Board of Directors of Oswego Harborfest for many years.

In retirement, the Dorseys maintained a winter home in Green Valley, Arizona near Tuscon. Mary, after Jack’s death in 2014, now lives in the Grand Canyon State all year. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to visit with them in Green Valley shortly before Jack’s passing. We ate, we shopped, shared stories as usual, and laughed a lot.

Jack was often chided about his resemblance to Santa Claus, with his white beard and fuller figure. His personality and generosity of spirit matched as well. It was hard to finish a sentence or two with Jack without hearing his hearty laugh. It just came naturally to him.

His daughter, Mali, is an apple who didn’t fall far from Jack’s tree in the good humor department. Mali continues to live in Oswego continuing her career at SUNY Oswego.

Maggie resides near her mother’s hometown of Oxford, New York, is a teacher and was recently married to James Gregory,  a local lawyer. Her daughter Hannah graduated from Cornell University and lives in Chicago.

Mary continues to polish up her bridge playing skills and maintain a full social calender. She and my late wife, Charlotte, over the years became good friends and she has many Charlotte stories to tell — just ask her. One of the funniest is when Charlotte, unbeknownst to Mary, decided the Dorsey girls needed a puppy, and proceeded to deliver one to their Gregory  Street home much to Mary’s surprise and chagrin. The dog did not stay very long, and was returned to the shelter to find another happy home. Who, you might ask, surprises their friends with the gift of a dog? Only people like Charlotte. It was the only time in their long friendship that Mary became infuriated with Charlotte. The anger didn’t last, much to Mary Dorsey’s credit.  There were many more smiles than frowns.

Mary Dorsey is a wonderful mother, reliable friend and a positive person with an  uplifting  personality and spirit.  That’s true of her daughters and granddaughter as well. When it comes to love and laughter, the Dorsey women  deliver in spades.  I am sure Jack would be very proud of that legacy.

John T. Sullivan is a former Oswego Mayor and the author of three books, “Forks In The Road” parts I and II and an autobiography “Pee Not Your Pants — Memoirs of a small time mayor with big time ideas,” available locally in the river’s end bookstore and online.  His column appears exclusively in The Palladium-Times on the first Thursday of each month.

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