William Walter Dornburgh

1931 - 2019

COOPERSTOWN – William Walter Dornburgh, 87, of Cooperstown, died Sunday morning, May 26, 2019, at his home. 

He was born September 26, 1931, in Jersey City, New Jersey, a son of Edmund and Elizabeth (Meehan) Dornburgh.

Bill attended Jersey City public schools, where he was high school class president. He received a BS degree in economics from Saint Peter’s College in 1954, where he said the Jesuits had left an indelible Catholic mark on his life, as he put it, “warts and all”. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 1951, served at Parris Island and received an Honorable Discharge in 1952. He earned an MBA in finance from Seton Hall University in 1964.

After his father died in 1936, Bill and his brothers spent summers on the family farm in Middlefield, which led to a lifelong love affair with Cooperstown. He worked summers at The Cooper Inn and The Otesaga Hotel from 1947 to 1953. During those summers he met Patricia Ann Butler, a Native Daughter of Cooperstown who became “the essence of his existence”. They were married at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown in June 1954, a marriage that lasted 60 years, seven months and two days. They raised their family in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

Bill was an officer of the Bank of New York in New York City, and was subsequently a senior vice president of UJB Financial Corporation in Princeton, New Jersey, from which he retired in 1994. He was president of UJB Leasing Corp., and had also been an adjunct assistant professor of economics at St. Peter’s College for ten years. He also served as chairman of the Board of Governors of West Hudson Hospital in Kearney, New Jersey, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Accel International Corp. in Dublin, Ohio. Before he and Patricia retired to Cooperstown, he volunteered as a tutor at a Newark, New Jersey elementary school where he said he learned more that he taught.

In 1973, Bill and Patricia purchased a portion of the old Hinman/Dornburgh family farm in Middlefield, where they built a small summer cottage which they redesigned into their retirement home in 1995. They resided there until they moved into the Village of Cooperstown in 2004. They had wintered in Pinehurst, North Carolina from 1995 until 2006. 

In his retirement years, Bill was an active parishioner of St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown, where he served as a lector, Eucharistic Minister and a member of the finance committee. He served on the board of the Town of Middlefield Historical Association and volunteered at The Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum and Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital. He was also president of the Glimmerglass Opera Guild and was a member of the Center for Continuing Adult Learning in Oneonta, where he taught courses in economics and political science. He also served as a director of the Otsego County Heath Facilities Corporation, which was charged with the sale of Otsego Manor, a sale to Focus that he voted against. He was an advocate for affordable housing in Cooperstown, single payer health insurance, legalization of undocumented immigrants, a married priesthood and, most of all, of civil discussion. He was also a member of the Clark F. Simmons American Legion Post No. 579 in Cooperstown. 

He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Patricia, in 2015, who he “loved with all his heart and soul and every fiber of his being”. He was very proud of their five children who survive him: Kathleen Stuart of Apex, North Carolina, Leigh Dornburgh and his wife, Paula of Elmsford, Annie Hannah of Rochester, New Hampshire, Barbara Santurri and her husband John of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and Edmund Dornburgh and his wife, Elizabeth of Arlington, Massachusetts. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and two great grandsons. He was predeceased by two brothers, Edmund in 1944, and Leigh in 1948.

Bill’s full name was William Walter Joseph Dornburgh. His initials WWJD could be translated as “What Would Jesus Do?”, a moral imperative by which he lived. 

Friends may call and pay their respects to the Dornburgh family from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, May 31, 2019, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown 

The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at St. Mary's "Our Lady of the Lake" Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown, with Fr. John P. Rosson, presiding.

The Service of Committal and Burial will follow in Lakewood Cemetery, Cooperstown, where Bill will be buried beside his beloved Patricia. 

He will be greatly missed by his loving family, especially for his unending guidance and support.

In addition to flowers, the Dornburgh family respectfully requests that memorial gifts in memory of Bill be directed to Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, 297 River Street Service Road, Oneonta, NY 13820. 

Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.

If you would like to send condolences to the family, send an email to Connell, Dow & Deysenroth. We will forward your comments to the family. If you would like to send flowers in memory of the deceased, contact Mohican Flowers at (607) 547-8822, or A Rose is a Rose at (607) 264-3100.