Joseph Dorgan

November 10, 1925 - March 9, 2017
Plainwell, MI



Sunday, March 12, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
Plainwell Location
120 South Woodhams Street
Plainwell, MI 49080
(269) 685-5881
Driving Directions


Monday, March 13, 2017
11:00 AM EDT
St. Margaret Catholic Church
766 S. Farmer Street
Otsego, MI 49078
(269) 694-6311
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Wings of Hope Hospice
530 Linn Street, Suite A
Allegan, MI 49010
(269) 686-8659
Driving Directions
Web Site

St. Margaret School
736 S. Farmer Street
Otsego, MI 49078
(269) 694-4520
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

River Rose
(269) 692-3951

Plainwell Flowers
117 S. Main
Plainwell, MI 49080
(269) 685-8055
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


We live in a better place because of Joseph Dorgan. He left behind a life full of compassion, dedication, and much self-gained knowledge about the world around him. Joseph was a loving husband, a caring father, and a good friend to all who knew him.

The 1920’s decade was a time of freedom and exuberance - leaving Americans to live life often flouting the conventions of the conservative. It was a time that was given a name that never left history books: “The Roaring Twenties.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel, “The Great Gatsby,” was published in this year, and even today is enjoyed by high school students everywhere as they gain some perspective of the time period. Calvin Coolidge marked the 30th president in office, and he was well respected by the majority during his time. Throughout this year, families were able to visit the first Sears Roebuck and Company store if they happened to be in the Chicago area, otherwise, it was still a well known catalog shopping experience. Christmas gifts purchased from Sears would now be wrapped and secured with the invention of Scotch Tape.

In Washington D.C. the holiday season was shaping up to be a busy one for Dennis and Emma (Smith) Dorgan, as they were expecting their fourth child. They welcomed their precious son, Joseph, to the world on November 10th. He was joined by 1 more sibling before long - making the family complete with five children. The Dorgan family grew up just a few blocks from the White House, playing and enjoying the boisterous behavior that naturally comes with a family of this size. Joseph attended local schools until 8th grade however, his lack of a formal education never stunted his love of learning and knowledge. When he turned 16, he attempted to enlist in the Navy but was denied due to his age. He whiled away the time working odd jobs and upon his 17th birthday, he officially and proudly joined the United States Navy Armed Guard with service in the European theater.

After the Navy, Joseph returned to Washington D.C. and found a job converting businesses and factories from propane gas to natural gas. His new position afforded him the opportunity to travel across the United States and meet people from all walks of life, gaining broad perspectives from all he encountered. Eventually, life took him to Monroe, Michigan when he accepted a position with Michigan Gas.

He was an obvious hard worker, and did find some time to treat himself to a vacation once in a while. One such vacation took him to warm and sunny Miami, Florida to visit a friend. A friend who shared with Joseph the interesting news of three single nurses living right next door. Something in those uttered words piqued Joseph’s interest, and before long he met Doris, one of the single nurses. Little did he know they would share an amazing 61 years of marriage together! After being together only a total of 14 days from the day they met, they married in December 1955 in Miami at St. Michael the Arch Angel Catholic Church. Their love was true and everlasting spanning six decades, six children, ten states and many, many adventures. Shortly after their wedding, the newlyweds settled in Seattle, Washington where they happily welcomed their first baby, Rosemary. She was followed by 5 other children: Joel, Daniel, Kelly, Craig and Keith.

The Dorgan Family moved quite often, but eventually they found their way back to the state of Michigan. Joseph initially worked for Robert Shaw Control Company, but this required a lot of traveling and time away from his family; he then accepted a position with Lear Siegler as a national sales manager in Holland, Michigan. In 1975, life pointed him in a different direction when he was given an opportunity to purchase Hoag Hardware which shortly thereafter, became Dorgan Ace Hardware. As a family business, every one of the Dorgan children worked in the store which made the dream even sweeter.

When Joseph was not devoting his time to the hardware store, he was actively involved in his community and helping anyone in need - near or far. He participated in the local Rotary Club where he received the Paul Harris Award for his contributions, he was a devout Irish Catholic and a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. Because of these admirable qualities, he was well known in the community and often sought out by others for his sound advice. This eventually led to him serving as Mayor of Plainwell for two terms - a job for which he was well suited. One of his most notable legacies during his time in this position was the Riverwalk Project.

Perhaps the way Joseph chose to live his life had an impact on where it led him. A firm believer in turning off the television to pay attention to the world around him, or the curiosity to learn through books - he was always interested and wanting to help. The hardware store was a perfect spot for him because it allowed him to help others build and restore the world around them. He fostered a certain compassion for the world, and this was evident in his daily life. One especially remarkable time, he traveled with the Rotary to Belize with supplies to help school children and hospitals. He did this because it was simply in his nature to help.

When he was not helping others altruistically, he enjoyed woodworking and vacationing in Northern Michigan or Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He also journeyed abroad to Israel and London exploring the ways of other countries. When time allowed, he would even throw a fishing line in the water to see if he might get a bite or sometimes he ventured out into the woods for some hunting. And because it was of Joseph’s nature to be knowledgable in many areas, he even owned and piloted his very own airplane before he was married. Ultimately though, he lived his dream daily in the hardware store, as it was his passion and hobby.

Together, Joseph and Doris were able to celebrate the birth of 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Joseph enjoyed the curiosity and fresh perspectives of these precious young lives. He was able to share his passion for life and his good character as a lasting legacy to them and to all who knew him. The memories of Joseph will forever last in our hearts. He will be missed greatly and never forgotten.


Joe Dorgan, age 91, of Plainwell went to be with the Lord on March 9, 2017 at his home.

Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Sunday, March 12 from 4:00 to 7:00 with a rosary at 6:30 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell; 120 Woodhams St. (685-5881).

A funeral mass will be held on March 13 at 11:00 at St. Margaret’s Church; 766 S. Farmer St in Otsego.

Joe’s family includes his wife of 61 years, Doris; his children: Rosemary Harvey, Joel (Kimberly) Dorgan, Daniel Dorgan, Craig (Margaret) Dorgan and Keith (Holly) Dorgan; his sister Mary Sondheimer; 12 grandchildren; 3 great grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his son: Kelly; his siblings: Julia, Jack, Dennis.

Memorial donations can be made to the Wings of Hope Hospice or St. Margaret’s School.