Charlie passed away July 20, 2014, at the age of 78.
All his life, Charles H. Dorman was a man who put muscle behind his dreams.
Charlie was barely out of grade school when he bought his first cow with earnings he received from picking strawberries at a local field. Turns out young Charlie hated picking strawberries so much that he eventually saved enough money to buy that field, thereafter employing others to do the picking for him.
At only 17 years of age, Charlie was honored to receive the Star Award and $100 dollars from Future Farmers of America for operating a 30-acre irrigated farm.
His farming project included a dairy herd of 12 cows, the marketing of 1,000 broiler chickens every nine weeks, cultivating 18 acres of grain and tending to the many responsibilities and chores required to manage a full-time farm.
In 1958, at 22 years of age, Charlie Dorman married the lovely Joanne Oberg who he met at a local dance. Together they raised three children: Ann (Dorman) Ellingson, Dan Dorman and Todd Dorman. Charlie was blessed to have his children and his beloved grandchildren live on-island.
During their 55 years of marriage, Charlie, with his wife Joanne, turned the original herd of Jersey cows he bought at 17 into a full-fledged dairy production called Cedar Brook Farms, milking 100 cows daily complete with delivery service. From dairy production, Charlie branched out into raising crops and beef cattle. During this time, he also served nine years in the Army Reserve.
In 1979, Charlie turned his sights to Alaska, where farming was still being pioneered. He and the Dorman family moved to Kodiak where he was free to follow his dreams of raising various types of livestock, including providing Kodiak Island with an actual piggery from which he produced wonderful smoked turkeys and hams for local holiday tables.
In addition to providing food to the community, Charlie was a firefighter for the city of Kodiak for 11 years. Having acquired his skills by working as a volunteer firefighter both at the Gales Creek firehouse in Gales Creek, Oregon, and later in Kodiak, Charlie was well suited for the job. It was during this period of time that the lure of the sea finally got to Charlie through his son Dan, and he and his son participated in a few salty ventures, though Dan swears he never actually saw Charlie step foot aboard.
Upon his retirement from the Kodiak City Fire Department, Charlie started Kodiak Smoking and Processing that he operated with his wife Joanne for the next 10 years. After retiring from that venture, Charlie managed several real estate holdings, built up a Christmas tree business with his son Todd and continued his efforts of ranching in Saltery Cove.
Ranching in Kodiak requires steady nerves and a lot of tenacity. The bears in Saltery Cove enjoyed two herds of cattle before Charlie switched to buffalo. He brought 40 reluctant buffalo by barge from the mainland of Alaska over to Kodiak Island, off-loaded them and managed to get them to the range in Saltery Cove. The buffalo thrived. The ranch is successfully producing healthy grass-fed meat, and the bears have gone back to eating salmon.
Charlie Dorman was a hard-working man and his children had a very unique childhood. His daughter, Ann, remembers the time she was left out at the American River to care for a pregnant sow who promptly gave birth. One of the piglets wasn't breathing and fearful it would die, Ann did what any farm girl would and administered CPR. The piglet survived. She remembers having fun learning to plow fields and not having near as much fun working at the slaughterhouse. Charlie referred to Ann as his "go-to" girl.
Dan and Todd remember many projects working alongside their father, all the adventures of breaking and riding horses, a certain "camping trip" to Saltery Cove. And the time a sow died giving birth and their father brought an entire litter of piglets home. They recall how cute the little piglets were and the chaos that ensued.
Throughout his adult life, Charlie took an active role in the Soil and Water Conservation Agency as well as the Farm Bureau. He was a member of the Kodiak Livestock Co-op for 35 years, a board member in the advisory position for The National Resource Conservation and Development Agency, a district board member for the Alaska Association of Conservation, and a lifetime member of the Order of the Elks, but as Charlie put it, due to all his other commitments, he was "only a ‘social’ Elk."
A good friend to many, Charlie was especially looking forward to attending his 60th high school reunion in September in order to spend time with his high school agriculture teacher Grant Scott as well as other long-time friends.
With his dry sense of humor, remarkable memory and quick wit, Charlie Dorman could reel out a story that improved greatly upon the actual events. For that gift alone, he will be deeply missed.
Charles H. Dorman is survived by his beloved wife, Joanne; their children, Ann Ellingson Dorman and her husband Rick, Dan Dorman and his wife Kim, Todd Dorman and his wife Celeste; and grandchildren Rhiannon, Joseph, Mariel, Christopher, Zachary, and Megan. He also is survived by his brother, Jim, and his wife Carmen; nephew Jimmy Dorman and his wife Debbie; and Fred Malutin, his grandsons’ dad and friend.
In addition he leaves behind many friends and a legacy of entertaining memories.
In lieu of flowers, the Dorman family prefers a donation go to the Kodiak High School Future Farmers of America club in the hopes of encouraging some young farmer to pursue his or her dreams.