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1928 William S Dorn (Bill) 2024

William S Dorn

July 12, 1928 — April 18, 2024

Denver

William S Dorn (Bill) passed away peacefully April 18, 2024 at his home in Denver, Colorado.

Bill was an only child, born July 12, 1928 to Earl and Emma Dorn in Pittsburgh, PA. He was a child of the Great Depression and his family struggled. This colored much of his life and he was so grateful for the many opportunities he had through his education, which was made possible through his service in the army.

He began serving in the United States Army in 1947 and reached the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He was granted an honorable discharge in 1953.

He attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University), with a BS in physics, and MA and PhD in mathematics (1955). This is where he met his first wife, Nancy Lou Wootton. She became the love of his life and they were married on November 15, 1952. 

Bill initially worked for General Electric.   He taught at New York University and then worked at IBM in New York in the computer science research laboratory.  Deciding that teaching was his destiny, he moved his family to Denver in 1968 and began his teaching career at the University of Denver. He taught mathematics and computer science, and also served in several administrative capacities over the years including: Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Associate Dean of the New College, and later as special assistant to the Dean of the College. In 1972 he received a Fulbright Scholarship and spent a year at the Open University in England, looking at ways computers could be used in education. He was passionate about higher education and spent 30 years at DU teaching, mentoring and guiding hundreds of students. He was a caring and compassionate professor and colleague. He wrote and co-authored many textbooks on mathematics and computer science. He was acknowledged with several awards including: Distinguished Teaching Award (1997); Distinguished Service to the University Award (1999); and DU Athletics Hall of Fame Award (2020) for his support of student athletes and athletic programs.

Bill had many interests and hobbies. He valued physical fitness and was a distance runner into his 80’s. He loved skiing and ice skating. He was an avid sports fan, enjoying being a spectator at DU hockey games, Women’s Gymnastics, major league baseball, and football. He watched his beloved DU Pioneers win their 10th hockey championship just before his decline. He was a longtime member and active participant at the Church of the Ascension in Denver.

Another passion of Bill’s was Sherlock Holmes stories and the people who studied them. He belonged to the Baker Street Irregulars and Dr. Watson’s Neglected Patients. He wrote many books related to his favorite detective including: Cooking for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, The Parlour Games of Sherlock HolmesThe Dogs of Sherlock Holmes, as well as study guides for some of the famous mystery stories. He also enjoyed teaching Sherlock Holmes classes at DU and leading Sherlock Holmes walking tours in London. At the time of his death he was working on an early reader Sherlock Holmes book for his great-grandchildren, to encourage them to develop deductive reasoning skills and share his passion with them.

Bill was a lifelong learner and tried to learn something new every year of his retirement, which led him to take drawing classes; learn about film editing; take Moroccan cooking classes; and develop his baking skills.  He was a lover of the arts, acting in plays; writing sonnets and limericks; playing the piano and French horn. In his later years, his loss of vision made life and his computer work so challenging, but he never gave up, always searching for and trying accommodations.  Although he was frugal when it came to himself, he was so generous with others! He delighted in a good bargain! 

Bill was a devoted husband to Nancy until her passing in 2004. He had a second chance at love when he married Priscilla Licht in 2018 and she survives him. 

Bill is also survived by his three children: Julie Aiello, Philip Dorn (Dolores), Abby Dorn (Patrick), as well as seven grandchildren: Erica Garroutte, Hannah Hartman (Jeff); Emily Putz (Adam), Pamela Putz (Andrew), Billy Dorn, Jacob Dorn (Alexis), and Claire Dorn. He is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Leo and Jordan Putz; Pearl and June Hartman; Alice, Josephine, and Leila Putz.

His family was paramount to Bill. He was a devoted, funny and wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a compassionate and reliable friend to many, willing to quietly help during difficult times. He lived a life full of love, learning, laughter and faith, and he will be forever missed.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, May 10, 2024 at 10:00am, at Church of the Ascension, 600 N Gilpin St, Denver, CO with a reception to follow.  The service will be live-streamed: please go to 

https://www.ascensiondenver.org/ and the service link will be available on the website at 9:50 am.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to an organization near and dear to Bill’s heart:

University of Denver- Women’s Athletics: direct donations to Kacie Dohrmann, Deputy AD, at 2201 E. Asbury Ave, Denver, CO 80210

Additional information about special donations to the University of Denver will be available at Bill’s funeral.

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