James Dennis Dorsey
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James Dennis Dorsey
  • January 18, 1939 - January 11, 2018
  • Williamsburg, Virginia

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James "Jim" Dennis Dorsey, of Williamsburg, also known affectionately as "First Down," passed away on January 11, 2018.

He proudly served his country with the United States Army for 25 years, serving two tours in Vietnam and earning numerous awards for his service, including the Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Star, and several others. He retired honorably as a Lieutenant Colonel.

During his freshman year at the College of William & Mary in 1957, Jim was proud to work for Jamestown during the 350th anniversary selling souvenir programs to busloads of guests. Following his military career, he returned to Jamestown and was thrilled to be there for the 400th anniversary, which was also attended by Queen Elizabeth II. For many years, he was the Interpretive Supervisor of James Fort at Jamestown Settlement. Prior to his retirement, he was working as the Assistant Interpretive Program Manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. Throughout his career, Jim trained and mentored scores of costumed interpreters. He researched and developed interpretive training and public history programs that continue to be a staple of Jamestown's museum experience. Jim was also a published author, particularly proud to have written a poem to commemorate the quadricentennial of the founding of America's first permanent English settlement in 1607.

As a devoted alumnus of the College of William & Mary, he could often be found rooting for the Tribe during football games, alumni events, and other sports. He was born in Pittsburgh and continued his love for his hometown teams: the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. He also enjoyed meeting up with friends and former classmates for lunch regularly.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Doreen Heller. He will be dearly missed by his loving wife of 56 years, Frances D. Dorsey; son, Scott Dorsey and wife Melissa; daughter, Patricia "Trish" Dorsey; his nieces and nephews and their families; as well as countless friends.

Visitation will begin at 2:00 pm on Thursday, January 18 at the College of William & Mary Wren Chapel, 111 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, where services will follow at 4:00 pm. A reception will immediately follow at the Alumni House, 500 Richmond Road, Williamsburg. Jim will be interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, Jim's memory may be honored with contributions to the William & Mary Alumni Association, Attn: Elaine Campbell, P.O. Box 1693, Williamsburg, VA 23187

(https://wmalumni.com/) or the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Attn: Development Office, P.O. Box 3605, Williamsburg, VA 23187 (www.historyisfun.org/donate/).