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Dr. Marion Lamar Dorton died Friday, February 2, 2018 at Iredell Memorial Hospital.
He was born in Ansonville, NC to the late Rev. Martin Luther Dorton and Lena White Dorton on November 17, 1927. He was married to the former Bettie Jane Sides on June 25, 1949, in Winston-Salem.
His early education was in Albemarle, Marion, and Landis High School where he graduated in 1944. Growing up, baseball was his passion. As a youngster when he accompanied his father on visits to his parishioners, he would be asked, “Are you going to be a preacher like your father?” He immediately responded, “No! I am going to be a baseball player!” He played neighborhood pick-up games, American Legion, high school, college, semi-pro, and professional baseball.
He graduated from Catawba College in 1948 after an outstanding athletic collegiate career. He lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. He was Catawba’s placekicker in football and ranked third in the nation in 1945 against other college placekickers. One of his favorite memories was when Catawba was invited to play in the Tangerine Bowl (now Citrus Bowl) in 1947 and 1948. Catawba beat Marshall College (now Marshall University).
Being a good story teller, he enjoyed telling baseball stories to his grandsons. One he cherished was when he was selected to play in the “Esquire” game in 1947 in Charlotte. This game pitted North Carolina against South Carolina All-Star players. He was chosen MVP of the game and was invited to Brooklyn, NY to play on the World All-Star team against the Brooklyn Allstars in a series at Ebbett’s Field. He said it was very exciting at age 17 to dress in the same clubhouse as the Dodgers and see Jackie Robinson who was in his first season in the Majors.
Dr. Dorton signed a professional baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948 with whom he was a catcher and manager in the organization for 13 years, when he decided to go to Dental School at UNC Chapel Hill. He managed teams in the Rookie League for Pittsburgh in the summers while in Dental School. Upon graduation in 1961 he established his Dental Career in Statesville where he practiced 35 years. He loved and respected his patients.
He was very active in the local, District and State Dental Societies serving in various capacities. He was the State Travel Chairman for the profession.
He was a member of Broad Street Methodist Church. He served as Sunday School teacher, and greeter for 20 years.
Locally he was active in the Jr. Chamber of Commerce concerning a project to provide fluoride in Statesville’s water system which lessened cavities in children’s teeth. He served on the Recreation Commissioner Exchange Club, Board of First Union Bank, Statesville Country Club and Mt. Moriah Masonic Lodge #576. In 1967 he worked with the Statesville Chamber of Commerce to bring back professional baseball to Statesville. He secured a franchise with the Detroit Tigers. The team played for 3 years in a ball park behind the High School.
Catawba College was very important in his life and he served on its Board of Visitors and was inducted into its Sports Hall of Fame. He donated the Sports Medicine Complex in the new Athletic Field House.
Dr. Dorton is survived by his wife Bettie, two daughters Diana Dorton Schnebelt, Sarah Dorton Cozart (Bill) of Raleigh, grandsons, William Charles Cozart III, and Harrison Dorton Cozart of Raleigh, Lee Armstrong Cozart of Chapel Hill, and Adam Lamar Schnebelt of Spartanburg, SC, and sister-in-law Nancy Sides Garrett of Walkertown, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his parents, his beloved son, David Lamar Dorton and his sister, Evelyn Dorton Casper of Asheboro.
A Memorial Service will be held at Broad St. United Methodist Church at 11:00 AM on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Following the service, the family will visit with friends in the Fellowship Hall of the Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that memorials be sent to Catawba College Athletic Fund, c/o Catawba College, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144 or Gordon Hospice House, 2347 Simonton Rd., Statesville, NC 28625, or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Dr. Dorton’s family would like to thank the outstanding and caring staff of Iredell Memorial Hospital’s Rehabilitation Unit.
Online condolences may se sent to www.nicholsonfunerals.com. Nicholson Funeral Home is serving the family of Dr. Dorton.