Obituary for Nancy Dunton Dorsey

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Nancy Dunton Dorsey

May 30, 1933 - February 15, 2021

Nancy Dunton Dorsey, age 87, died Monday, February 15, 2021 at the Ohio Eastern Star Home in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  Nancy Ruth Dunton was born May 30, 1933 in Lakewood, Ohio, the daughter of the late John Bartlett Dunton and Amy (Perkins) Dunton.  Nancy was raised in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and graduated from Chagrin Falls High School in 1951.  She attended Ohio State University and earned her BA in Political Science in 1955.  Nancy married James R. (Jim) Dorsey May 21, 1955.  Nancy is survived by her husband Jim, daughter Allison Dorsey (Dan Gordon), son Jay Dorsey (Beth Waller) and grandsons Max Dorsey-Gordon (Katie Schaub) and Sam Dorsey-Gordon.  Nancy was preceded in death by her parents, sister Winifred (Winni) Dunton and brother John Bartlett (Jack) Dunton (Mary Kiedaisch).

From 1955 to 1982, Nancy and Jim lived in Blanchester, Ohio where Jim owned and operated Dorsey Drugs pharmacy.  In addition to raising Allison and Jay, Nancy variously taught English at Jefferson High School, worked at Dorsey Drugs, served as a Girl Scout leader, taught at Chatfield College, was a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, and led fund-raising efforts for the scouts, local swimming pool, new BHS band uniforms, and many other causes.

Intrigued following a trip to Africa (Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa) with Blanchester friend Doris Faulkner in 1980, Nancy decided she needed to know more about Africa.  She enrolled in the African Studies graduate program at Ohio State University becoming absorbed in African history and culture.  She completed her thesis “Africa and Africans:  An Introductory Handbook for Americans” hoping to help those like herself who knew Africa, if at all, through stereotypes.  After she earned her MA in African Studies in 1982, Nancy and Jim immersed themselves in African culture (not as missionaries) by moving to a small village outside the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam where they lived from 1983 to 1985.  To support themselves, Jim taught pharmacy at the University of Dar Es Salaam and Nancy taught swimming at the International School.

When Jim and Nancy returned to the US, they sold the drugstore and moved to Columbus.  After completing a Master of Library Science at Kent State University (1986), Nancy pursued her Ph.D. at OSU concentrating her research on a historical women’s uprising in Tanzania.  Supported by a Fullbright Scholarship, Nancy spent a year in Tanzania collecting data and interviewing community members about the Mbiru tax protest of the 1940s to document how this momentous event was remembered and communicated through oral history.  Nancy earned a one-of-a-kind, cross-disciplinary Ph.D. in Folklore, Women in Development, and African Studies in 1994 by completing her dissertation “Pare Women and the Mbiru Tax Protest in Tanzania, 1943-1947:  A Study of Women, Politics and Development” under the direction of Dr. Amy Shuman.

Dr. Nancy Dorsey leveraged her extensive experience and connections made during a 1990 visit to Kampala, Uganda to secure a teaching position in the late 1990s in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University in Kampala.  Nancy and Jim very much enjoyed their 2nd extended African stay together, again immersing themselves in the local Kampala/Makerere community, with Jim assuming the role of primary shopper and bottle washer.

While teaching at Makerere, Nancy was honored to support Miria Matembe, a central figure in Ugandan politics, share the story of her life and battles ( Nancy’s interviews with Miria and organizing/editing resulted in “Miria Matembe:  Gender, Politics and Constitution Making in Uganda” (2002, Fountain Publishers).

As Nancy and Jim “retired” to their Columbus home, they still had many adventures, including three years on the road seeing new parts of the US in an RV.  To satisfy a building interest in China, Nancy volunteered to teach English in a rural school in China so she could experience some first-hand exposure to Chinese culture (and authentic Chinese food).  Nancy also played a significant role in helping Bill Myles tell his inspiring story “Myles Traveled: Stories of My American Journey” ( about coaching football at the University of Nebraska and Ohio State, and serving 22 years as Associate Athletic Director at OSU.

Along the way, Nancy and Jim opened their home to international students and other young people to provide a stable, loving environment when needed.  Nancy was ever a champion of women’s empowerment and diversity.

Nancy was a lifelong Christian Scientist, a member of congregations in Chagrin Falls, Hillsboro and Columbus, Ohio and Kampala, Uganda.  She served on the board of Glenmont, a Christian Science nursing facility in Hilliard, Ohio.






All services are to be private.

Peter Fuuna posted on February 27, 2021

Celebrate life of Nancy Dorsey Taught numerous courses at school of women and Gender studies makerere , Popular Name What is happening interested students understand gender analysis. We are orphans in Uganda May her soul rest in peace

Mickey Meyhoefer Scales posted on February 26, 2021

After 50 years, I still remember Nancy's dedication to all of us in her Girl Scout Troop. She was an inspiration then, and after reading about her amazing life since then, I see she continued to be a spark in the lives she touched. May she now have eternal peace.

Rob Root, Easton, PA posted on February 25, 2021

My mom shared with me today the news of Nancy's passing. I am saddened by the news far more than you might expect, given that I haven't seen or heard from Nan in decades. She was such a true and faithful friend to my mom, she played an outsize role in my life. This began with visits by the Dorsey family to the Roots in my childhood. I was struck by the love and commitment signified by bringing her whole brood hundreds of miles to see an old friend. I also learned from simple interactions with the grace-filled Dorseys the power of friendship and forbearance. These visits had an outsize effect on me. As life went on, I would speak with Nan very occasionally when she called my mom and I happened to be visiting. Mostly I kept up with her through my mom's relating her exploits. I was so inspired by her work in Africa, I felt like she was a role model. She has always brought out the best in my mom, and I believe that her influence on me has been salutary as well. I mourn the passing of a great woman, and I wish all who knew her the space to grieve at our loss.

Margo and Dave posted on February 24, 2021

In memory of , Margo and Dave lit a candle

Margo and Dave posted on February 24, 2021

Losing a mother is always a difficult transition. She certainly left you good memories of a full life. Sorry for your loss.

Spence and Nancy Badet posted on February 24, 2021

We have been amazed and inspired by Nancy's life and work. It was an honor to be acquainted with her and her family. Rest in peace.

Stephanie fisher posted on February 23, 2021

Alison, So sorry for your loss Prayers for you and your family Stephanie and Tom fisher

Kathryn Barrett-Gaines posted on February 23, 2021

Nancy was one of the first people I met when I moved to Uganda. Nancy taught me a lot when I lived in Uganda. She continued to teach me as I watched her never stop learning, growing, and doing all of her days.

Bart and Lisa Dunton posted on February 23, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim, Allison, Jay and all of the Dorsey family. It was always fun during the Christmas holidays to get the Dunton’s and Dorsey’s together. Nancy always had new tales to tell about her travels Bart and Lisa Dunton


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