Peter Collins Dorsey

peter dorsey
The Honorable Peter Collins Dorsey, of North Haven, Conn., died Jan. 21 at The Connecticut Hospice. He was 80. Peter Collins Dorsey was born March 24, 1931, to Helen and Thomas Dorsey, of New London, Conn. He attended The Harbor School in New London, and Philips Academy in Andover, Mass. In 1953, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, and in 1959, he graduated from Harvard University School of Law with his J.D. He served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1956 and in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1956 to 1966. He retired as a lieutenant commander. Judge Dorsey is survived by his wife of 58 years, Cornelia M. Dorsey; children Karen (James) Fawcett, Peter (Nancy) Dorsey Jr., Jennifer Dorsey and Christopher Dorsey; grandsons Anson Dorsey and Christopher Dorsey Jr.; sister Joan Heal; brothers-in-law Laurence (Kathy) McEwen and William (Sherry) Marin; and seven nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, William Dorsey; and his nephew Jonathan Marin. Judge Dorsey was in the private practice of law from 1959 to 1974 in New Haven, Conn. He served as the United States attorney for the district of Connecticut from 1974 to 1977, when he returned to private practice. In 1983, he was appointed a U.S. district judge. He served on the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts from 1995 to 1998. Judge Dorsey was a member of the American Bar Association (House of Delegates 1975-79) and the Connecticut Bar Association (president 1977-78, Board of Governors 1966-69, Ethics Committee 1960 to 1983 and chairman 1970 to 1973.) Some of the his other memberships included the New Haven County Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, American College of Trial Lawyers, American Judicature Society, and the American Inns of Court. He served as the president of Ellsworth Inn from 1990 to 92 and president of Koskoff Inn 1978-99. Judge Dorsey also belonged to the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association and served as its president in 1973. He was also a member of the Connecticut Catholic Lawyers Guide. He was a recipient of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association's Judiciary Award, the Connecticut Bar Association Judiciary Award and the Quinnipiac Law School Baldwin Award for Public Service. Judge Dorsey also received the Quinnipiac Council Boy Scouts of American Leadership Award in 1992, and served on on the organization's board. He had previously served as president of the Big Brothers Association of Hamden, and served the town of Hamden on the Representative Town Meeting, Legislative Council and Police Commission and as town attorney. He was a Little League Baseball coach in the town of Hamden. A service for Judge Dorsey will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at St. Rita's Church in Hamden. There will be no calling hours. Burial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to The Connecticut Hospice at 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405.

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  1. I worked as one of Peter’s assistants when he was the United States Attorney and was privileged to be his second chair in the Shelton arson case in 1975. Peter was an inspiration. He was a ferociously hard worker and a skilled trial lawyer. More importantly he was an example of one who held and lived the values we all respect: honesty, kindness, generosity, fairness and devotion to family. He loved to nudge and verbally jab at all of us. He never got too big for his britches and thoroughly enjoyed trading insults, especially when he received as good as he gave. . As good as he was as a judge, he was an even better person and it was that person that made him a great judge. The humanity he shared with us is his legacy. He knew how to do what was right and he did it.

  2. It is with great sadness that I read of Peter’s passing. I had the pleasure of playing doubles tennis with him (but more often against him)for several years at the High Lane Club. Peter was always affable and humorous, while at the same time being fiercely competitive and displaying his unique ascerbic wit. He once told me that I would know that I was accepted into the tennis fraternity when people started insulting me. He showed me a lot of acceptance. I loved all of this about him. I shall miss seeing him out in his front yard tending to the bushes and trees and driving back and forth to his house in his big car. Rest in peace, Peter, and say a prayer for the rest of us poor souls. I am sorry to miss the memorial service for him, but I must attend a funeral for one of my own family members in Massachusetts at exactly the same time.

  3. I worked for Peter Dorsey as his secretary at Gumbart, Corbin, Tyler and Cooper in 1960. I have remembered him fondly all these years as the wonderful man he was. I loved his sense of humor and always felt privileged to have known him as I followed his career and appointments in the newspaper. I send my condolences to Mrs. Dorsey and the Dorsey family in their loss.

  4. My deepest condolences to Mrs. Dorsey, Karen, Peter, Chris and Jennifer on the passing of their father. Mr. Dorsey was one of the great influences in my life growing up in Hamden. Like others, I was always appreciative of his generosity as well as the recipient of his wit, which was always good natured. I have many very fond memories of Mr. Dorsey, from playing tennis and foot ball in his backyard, to having him accompany me to my Eagle Scout dinner. I am glad that I had the opportunity a few months ago to stop by and chat with him and Mrs. Dorsey. I will always treasure that and many other times I spent with him. May God comfort his wonderful wife and children during this time of loss.

  5. Peter, Please accept our deepest condolences at this difficult time. The loss of a father is challenging for a son to come to grips with at any age. Elizabeth and I have you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. We send our heartfelt condolences to Connie and the entire family. Peter was a good friend, a wonderful man and a great judge. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure and honor of knowing him. Jim & Joyce Greenfield

  7. Dorsey Family, We never lose the people we love, even to death. Their love leaves a lasting impression in our memories, and we can find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love. May the memories of Peter Sr. help you through this difficult time, and please know we at Cherrystone Angel Group have you in our thoughts and prayers. Sincerely, Your Friends at Cherrystone Angel Group

  8. I was a clerk for Judge Dorsey during a semester at Quinnipiac Law School and he allowed me to work on a number of cases, including the resolution of an unusual case that had been kicking around for some 15 years. He and his senior clerks were good teachers who allowed the freedom to develop invaluable skills that continue to serve me and my clients today, for which I am grateful. My condolences to Mrs. Dorsey and the Dorsey family.

  9. Peter, my heart goes out to you and your family on this sad occasion. Your father produced a great son that I’m sure he was very proud of. David

  10. Peter, My thoughts are with you. I didn’t know your Dad, but it sounds like he was a remarkable man. Be well. Doug

  11. Dear Peter, I am very sorry about your dad’s loss. I am sure you will cherish the most precious memories you had with him. Thinking about you and your family, Big hug Horacio

  12. I have known Peter since the mid-sixties when our sons were in the Indian Guides together, after we moved to the area. Since then I have played singles and doubles tennis with Peter over the years, at HLC and indoors. He always was most competitive but completely fair. My condolences go to Connie and his entire family.

  13. Chris, I am so sorry to learn of the passing of your Dad. Living so far away I was not aware of it. Please accept my condolences . jacqui

  14. Dear Peter, I am very sorry about your dad’s loss. I am sure you will cherish the most precious memories you had with him. Thinking about you and your family, Big hug Horacio

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