Martin Douglas Sorin, Ph.D.

1944 - 2024

SPRINGFIELD CENTER - Martin Douglas Sorin, Ph.D., 79, of Springfield Center, passed away on April 11, 2024, at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. 

Martin Douglas Sorin was born on September 16, 1944 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. 

He was the son of Joseph and Lillian Simpkin Sorin. His father taught him to fish, which would become a lifelong passion. When he was a teenager he started a fishing business, rising early in the morning to catch fish and sell them on the pier in Sheepshead Bay. He always thought that his career would be to captain a fishing boat, but a teacher convinced him to go to college. He attended Long Island University and found a second passion in the study of politics. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in political science and went on to New York University where he earned a Ph.D. in political science and graduated with distinction. His course of study focused on the Supreme Court and he maintained an interest in the court throughout his life, but his dissertation was on health care delivery on the Upper East Side in New York and would presage a career in public health. He was most interested in public programs that would make people’s lives better and in making sure that those programs were effective. To this end he began his career working for think tanks. First, the Center for Policy Research at Columbia University and later the Lazar Institute in Washington, D.C. where he worked on a national study exploring pre-trial crime. In it, he explored how judges determined whether to release suspects on bail and whether they considered dangerousness as a criterion. 

After his brother-in-law died from AIDS he went to work for the AIDS Institute evaluating programs for people with the disease. He worked on AIDS programming for 9 years. Until his retirement in 2016 he worked for the New York State Health Department’s Wadsworth Laboratories as Director of Program Evaluation in the Director’s Office and NYS Health Research Council. In this role he managed the state’s breast cancer research advisory board and the spinal cord injury research board chaired by Christopher Reeve. 

It was during his Ph.D. work at New York University that he met Gretchen Sullivan, a freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey who would become his wife. They moved to Springfield Center so that she could attend the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and later she became its director. They were married for 49 years and 11 months. 

Martin was an avid gardener and had a wonderfully dry sense of humor and loved to laugh, a characteristic that was sometimes surprising because of his introverted nature, but also showed off his impressive intellect. 

He is survived by his wife, Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, daughter Meredith Sorin Horsford and son-in-law Robert Horsford, son Gregory Sullivan Sorin, and two granddaughters, Lily and Maya Horsford as well as dear friends John and Florence Carnahan and Barbara and Ted Bartlett. 

Martin knew how education can change a life as his life was transformed. Donations in his memory may be made to the Martin D. Sorin ‘70 Endowed Scholarship at Long Island University by sending a check payable to Long Island University, Attn: Advancement, 720 Northern Blvd, Brookville, NY 11548 with "Martin Sorin '70 Scholarship" in the memo line. 

At his request there will be no services. A private function will celebrate his life and personality. 

Arrangements are with 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.