Murder victim's magnanimous spirit touched family, friends and strangers

September 27, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

Andy Dorsch was fond of the letters kids write to Santa Claus at Christmas time, especially the ones that reach the North Pole through the pages of the East Baltimore Guide.

Mr. Dorsch would pick out requests that appeared to be the most needy, rummage through his business warehouse for gifts and goodies, and deliver the presents to the Guide for dispersal on the night Santa made his rounds of Highlandtown.

"He'd come in every year with presents and the names of children from the paper," said John Cain, former Guide editor and now a 1st District city councilman. "These were wrapped presents, not just something he'd dump on us."

Said Tim Bowen, a nephew: "Helping people out was what made him tick."

He made friends and they, along with his family and good buddies from American Legion Post No. 95, bid farewell yesterday morning at a Mass at Sacred Heart of Mary in Dundalk.

Andrew L. Dorsch Jr., 67, was found stabbed to death last Tuesday at the Fleet Street office where he kept toys, cash and novelties for State Sales, his carnival supply company.

Police, who believe Mr. Dorsch was robbed, have made no arrests in the murder.

Born in South Baltimore, Mr. Dorsch went to Holy Cross School in Federal Hill through the eighth grade before embarking on a life of work.

He delivered newspapers, worked at Montgomery Ward, served in the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy during World War II, sold real estate and owned his own Formstone siding business before he bought State Sales.

"Years ago he lost everything in a business that went bad and after he started State Sales, it just kept growing," said Debbie Cafrey, a longtime friend. "Even though he bounced back higher than he was before, he knew what hard times were and he didn't want anyone to suffer the way he did."

For the last 17 years, Andy Dorsch rented gaming wheels and other carnival equipment to local politicians, churches, and charities for fund raisers, a business that required him to carry large amounts of money.

From Locust Point to Greektown, the tales of how he used that money are legendary.

He had no children of his own, but financed a young student's education through college; was known to pay utility bills for families about to have their gas and electric service turned off; and once made back mortgage payments for a man whose home was on the auction block.

That is the life the Rev. Bill Mannion -- who himself once rented carnival equipment from Mr. Dorsch for a church fund raiser -- celebrated during Mass yesterday morning.

"I imagine Andy would be very much at home in heaven because he was so comfortable with so many types of people. He liked talking with them," Father Mannion said. "Our reading from Matthew today talks about how we will be judged in heaven. It's not a matter of wealth or success, the way someone dressed or how many good or bad marks are next to their name.

"It's a matter of having a heart that was open for others. Andy gave to others not because he thought it was the right thing to do, not because it made him a big shot, but because he wanted to do it. He liked seeing kids smile."

When remembering Andy Dorsch, the priest said, the people who loved him should not wallow in hate for whoever killed him, but dwell in his vision for giving.

After Father Mannion finished his eulogy, mourners listened quietly to "Amazing Grace," some received Communion, and 1st District City Councilman Nick D'Adamo rose to address the congregation.

"I can remember walking over to his office when it was on Conkling Street next to the Grand Theater, and there would be people lined up outside asking for help," Mr. D'Adamo said.

"And Andy would go in his pocket and say: 'Pay me back when you can.' He never knew when to say no."

DORSCH FUND

The Andrew Dorsch Memorial Fund, which will dispense money to Mr. Dorsch's favorite charities, is accepting contributions at the Highlandtown branch of Maryland National Bank, 3417 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Md. 21224.

Also, police are asking anyone with information about his murder to call the homicide unit at 396-2100.

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