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Orin Doty: Man of peace who practiced what he preached

Orin Doty was a stubborn man with a passion for peace.

Doty, of Rochester, died March 27 at the age of 89, bringing a close to a life that was devoted to resistance to war, including serving two spells in prison as a conscientious objector during the Korean War.

"He was very active in the anti-war movement of the '60s, so growing up we went to a lot of the protests with him," said one of his daughters, Lisa Osman, of Rochester. At that time, Doty was protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam, but clearly pacifism for him was no passing fad.

In fact, in 1966 he refused to pay his 1965 federal taxes as a protest against the use of U.S. military forces in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Earlier, in 1959, Doty refused to file a federal income tax return because, as he said, "war-making has come to be the major activity of the federal government."

Asked if he feared going to prison as a result, Doty told the Minneapolis Morning Tribune, "My fear of the unknown is gone."


After all, his decision to resist the draft during the Korean War had landed him, and his three brothers, in jail twice. "He went to prison once for not registering, and then they signed him up and when he got out of prison, they arrested him for not reporting for his induction," said Doug Osman, Doty's son-in-law.

The Doty boys were following in the footsteps of their father, who had been a conscientious objector during World War I.

Orin Doty was born in Oelwein, Iowa, and was reared in northeastern Iowa until the family moved to Minnesota. He graduated from high school in Virginia, Minn., in 1945. Doty, his first wife and two daughters eventually settled in south Minneapolis. He married his second wife, June, in 1991 in Elk River. He moved to Rochester in the early 2000s.

Doty had a long association with peace activists. "He joined the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, the Quakers, for many years in the '50s, '60s and '70s," said Lisa Osman.

Quakers are well known for their pacifism. Eventually, though, Doty became skeptical of organized religion, as he sometimes expressed in letters to the editor of the Post-Bulletin.

Indeed, Doty was one of the "regulars" who wrote letters to the editor on nearly a monthly basis. His letters arrived neatly typed (on a typewriter, not a computer), written in often poetic language, and boldly signed.

His final letter to the Post-Bulletin, dated Aug. 1, 2016, commented on the recent political party conventions. It was vintage Doty: "We can each contribute according to our ability to a more civil and humane world," he wrote.

Or, as the bumper sticker on Doty's scooter chair proclaimed, "Believe in Good."

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