Obituary: David LaVerne Dorsey

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April 11, 1945 ~ Nov. 14, 2020

David Dorsey

David was very proud to have been born in the Paonia hospital (Yes, there was one! Located on Main Street, later the home of Dr. Don Ridgeway) on April 11, 1945, to Vern and Mildred (Abbott) Dorsey. He died in the Delta Hospital and went home to be with Jesus on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, at the age of 75, after contracting COVID-19 a week earlier.

David, a fourth generation North Fork Valley native, lived mostly in Paonia. His great-grandparents came to Paonia in 1898. Around his first five years of life, he lived up on the West Muddy, a mile south of the West Muddy Ranger Station. The next few years were spent on Black Mesa, when his Dad (Vern) was partners in a sawmill business with his cousins Al, Ernest and Pat Conkle. Around the age of 11, the family moved to town in Paonia, living at 420 Delta Avenue for the next 40-plus years.

David attended the schools in Paonia, graduating from Paonia High School in 1963. He attended Mesa College in Grand Junction for around a year and a half, taking drafting and trigonometry. Upon coming back to Paonia, there was a pretty young waitress that worked at Mom’s Kitchen on Third Street who caught his eye. He would come to the restaurant most every day to get his 10 cent cup of coffee, which he enjoyed for hours (with several free refills!). He made the waitress think he was rich when he tipped her 25 cents! They fell in love, and he and the waitress (Charlene Jean Schroeder) got married a few months later at the Paonia Christian Church (where David attended since childhood) in the year 1966. As newlyweds, Charlene asked which brand of coffee he wanted her to buy. He said, “I don’t even like coffee!” On Sept. 30 this year they celebrated 54 years of marriage. To this union was born a son, Tom, and a daughter, (his “Dolly”) Suelyn.

David worked several jobs in his early years. He was known for having a very high work ethic and passed those values on to his kids. If a job was worth doing, it was worth doing right. His first job at age 14 was at the Conoco gas station formerly just south of the Bross Hotel, later working at the Chevron owned by his Dad’s cousin Pat Conkle (at the current UBB bank drive-up on Grand Avenue), he drove school bus shortly out of high school on the Garvin Mesa route, delivered gasoline when it was 25 cents a gallon, worked at the sawmill in Hotchkiss (on Back River Road, currently a gravel pit), and Chapman’s Garage on Third Street (north of the current Mexican restaurant) as a mechanic for 13½ years. He was in the first batch of the original employees hired by the West Elk Mine as an underground welder, electrician and mechanic on the long wall.

When West Elk laid off most of their workforce in 1986, he tried having a mechanic shop at their house, which failed only because of all the free work he did for people. He then worked at the Deserado Mine in Rangely for six years, driving home on the weekends. And finally at the Bear Mine and Oxbow Mine, where he was forced to retire early due to health issues in 2006. His fellow miners nicknamed him “Digger Dave.” If there was something that needed fixed, he knew how to do it, and if necessary even machined a precision part for the repair using his metal lathe.

When David wasn’t working, he could be found going to yard sales. He found lots of “treasures” over the years. Even years later, he could tell you where he got different things he bought….and for how much! He loved visiting, and would talk to strangers for hours learning their life story.

He always had his pockets full of different little tools and his shirt-pocket full of things he might need (flashlight, magnets, screwdrivers, you name it, he had it!).

His daughter learned at an early age not to ask him how something worked. She wanted the short “Reader’s Digest version.” Dad would go into great detail explaining every mechanical aspect of it, always pulling out a piece of paper or a napkin to draw it out. She got where she’d tell him (as he was explaining), “that’s good enough.” He could tell she wasn’t “getting it” and would keep going on and on until it was fully explained.

David had great pride in going to watch his son Tom’s baseball and basketball games. As Tom grew up, they played catch for hours every night after supper, no doubt helping Tom be such a great pitcher!

He would always admire the clothes Mom sewed for herself, her kids or grandkids, saying she sure “built it well.” He’d brag on her sewing to anyone that would listen, and later his daughter’s as well.

David enjoyed spending time with his three grandsons after Tom died. When they spent the night at Grandpa and Grandma’s, they’d lay on the grass and watch the stars on warm summer nights. He later enjoyed his three grandkids from his daughter as well. David and Charlene lived in the same house for the last 48 years.

David is survived by his wife Charlene of the family home; sister Linda Dorsey of Eugene, Oregon; brother Norm Dorsey of Kino Bay, Mexico; brothers-in-law Melvin Cunningham and Jim (Jeannie) Schroeder; sister-in-law Myrneta Schroeder; daughter Suelyn and husband Marvin Pemberton of Paonia; and six grandchildren: Joel Dorsey (Rangely, Colorado), Josh Dorsey (Grand Junction, Colorado), Jeremiah Dorsey (Rangely, Colorado), Rachel Pemberton (Delta, Colorado), Timothy Pemberton (Delta, Colorado) and Sarah Pemberton (Paonia, Colorado) along with several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents (Vern and Mildred Dorsey), an infant son (Jeremiah Timothy in 1969), an adult son, (Thomas David in 1992) from cancer at the age of 25, and five grandbabies (Rebekah, Isaac, Stephen, Titus and Tabitha Pemberton)

A private family burial has taken place due to Covid. The family is hoping to have a public service next spring, possibly on his birthday in April. Taylor Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

We’re compiling a memory book and would treasure any memories you’ll take time to share! Memories or condolences can be sent to Charlene at 42798 Minnesota Creek Rd. in Paonia, or by email at or his daughter Suelyn Pemberton at 170 Hwy. 133, Paonia (her email is

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