Dr. John M. Dorsey, Jr., a prominent local pediatrician, died Sunday, March 20 at his home in the village of Lathrup. He was 94 years old.
His pediatric practice spanned 69 years and included children and grandchildren of three generations. He said “curiosity is the prescription for a long medical career”.
He founded Beverly Hills Pediatrics in 1959 and just retired in December.
“He was a defender of children’s rights. It wasn’t just that he had three generations of patients who loved him, he was an intuitive guy and one of the things he believed in was that medicine is an art as well as a science,” said said Jeanne Findlater, a long-time friend and neighbor.
An empathetic and compassionate doctor, he advocated for the welfare of young people “who had no voice or vote”, according to Findlater.
He founded a clinic for medically indigent families in the Pontiac; co-founder of Common Ground Sanctuary; was Head Start’s medical advisor in three counties. He was an early advocate for infant car seat laws and served on a General Motors car seat safety advisory committee and served as chairman of a national automotive safety committee.
Dorsey established an innovative medical program for the children of migrant workers and won the Pediatrician of the Year award for 2009-2010 from the Michigan Academy of Pediatrics.
“He was a hero,” said Findlater, the former vice president and general manager of WXYZ-TV.
She said he was also an advocate for children whose parent had been in prison. “They don’t have money, they don’t take their children to the doctor. So he founded a program that would treat children of incarcerated parents,” Findlater said.
Dorsey has served as chairman of the boards of directors of Oakland County Family Services and the Michigan State Medical Board Child Protection Committee. He served on the Birmingham City Commission, a seat he won through his successful campaign for fair housing.
He enlisted in the Navy and served in the Reserves from 1945 to 1950. He later re-enlisted and rose to the rank of Colonel in the US Army Medical Corps. He attended Cranbrook School, Highland Park High School, and Wayne State University School of Medicine. He was class president at Highland Park and Wayne State.
His brother, Dr Edward Carson Dorsey, a retired psychiatrist, said John had always been a leader. “Johnny is a phenomenon,” he said. “He has risen like the cream of the crop in any organization, from high school president to medical class president, and has been elected chief medical staff at Beaumont Royal Oak as often as they can re-elect him.”
Dorsey was the son of Dr. John M. Dorsey Sr., a renowned psychiatrist and professor who studied with Sigmund Freud, and his mother, Mary Carson Dorsey.
He was predeceased by Lorraine Tobias Dorsey, his wife of 43 years; his daughter Carolyn Carson Dorsey; and his first wife, Sally Stanton Dorsey.
He is survived by his sons John and Joseph Dorsey, his brother Edward, his stepchildren and his grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Royal Oak First United Methodist Church at a later date.