Carroll County has been fortunate to have many native sons and daughters who made a great difference and contribution to our community. History is often the sanitized and romanticized version of difficult events, in which ordinary folks stepped up to the plate to do extraordinary things. One example is the Willis-Dorm family, whose members have historically played key and critical public servant and leadership roles throughout the community.
In July 1977, one of the many matriarchs of the family, Mary P. E. Dorm, had the distinction of becoming Westminster’s first meter maid. In July 1978 she served as both meter maid and crossing guard. She was known for her dedication and commitment to the community and worked for the city until she retired in 1986.
She was also a licensed practical nurse and an assistant to another community leader from the past — Dorothy Elderdice. Mary Dorm passed away on Oct. 26, 2002.
Her son, Charlie Dorm was named the firefighter of the year for the Westminster Fire Company in 2004 for heroism demonstrated while responding to a fire in 1981.
An article in the Carroll County Times on March 13, 2004, by David Simon, explained, “Dorm, a machinist, put off joining the fire department until 1976.
“On Sunday, Jan. 4, 1981, at 10:44 a.m., the Westminster fire department received a call for a chimney fire at 331 E. Main St.,” reported Simon. The blaze was tough for firefighters to work on that day because of the frigid cold — it was 2 degrees above zero, according to a Times article from Jan. 5, 1981.
“Dorm was one of the firefighters from five area fire departments on the scene,” according to Simon. “James Bangerd III was another. When part of the roof collapsed, some debris fell on Bangerd — who was working on the second floor of the house — trapping him beneath the pile.
“Bangerd was pinned and unable to move when Dorm, a five-year veteran of the department at that time, removed the debris and freed him. Bangerd was later treated and released from Carroll County General Hospital…
“These days, Dorm doesn't fight fires anymore, but serves on the fire police, which help direct traffic and crowds away from fires.”
Recently the tables turned on the Dorm family.
On May 28, Michelle “Missie” Dorm, the daughter of Emily Willis Dorm and Charlie Dorm suffered a brain aneurysm that ruptured. Missie is a former Westminster Fire Company Fire Queen. She is the sister of Jacqueline Dorm and Jenny Dorm Bhatti and the cousin of Gen. Linda Singh; a major general of the Maryland Army National Guard. She was appointed as the 29th adjutant general of Maryland effective Jan. 21, 2015.
Friends, colleagues, and family have rallied to support her. The costs of attending to Missie have accumulated. The Westminster Fire Company has partnered with the Community Foundation of Carroll County to set up a fund for the Dorm Family in the Community of Compassion fund. Financial donations for the Dorm family are not being accepted at the Westminster Fire Company.
The Mission of the Community Foundation of Carroll County is to maintain and enhance the quality of life in the community of Carroll County through philanthropic means. The Foundation receives, invests, and distributes funds for charitable, cultural, and educational purposes for the benefit of the citizens of Carroll County.
The Community of Compassion was set up in 2007. The first family it helped came as a result of both parents having a catastrophic health crisis. The fund collected money from the community to come to the aid the Mom and Dad and their children.
In a recent email interview with Audrey Cimino, the executive director of the Community Foundation, she explained that the fund helps “people with a strong connection to Carroll County; who have suffered a catastrophic illness, accident, or disaster; who are uninsured or underinsured; and folks who need help…”
“Family, friends, and the community gather around and raise money for the person or family. The money comes to the Foundation and we pay expenses or issue gift cards. We have used this mechanism over forty times and have helped many people,” explained Cimino.
A link has been established on the Foundation's web site at: www.carrollcommunityfoundation.org for donations: www.carrollcommunityfoundation.org/funds.asp?fund_id=368.
Tax deductible donations may be sent to the Community Foundation of Carroll County, Dorm Family Fund, 255 Clifton Boulevard, Westminster MD 21157
The Dorm family is very thoughtful and frugal. Any and all funds collected above what the Dorm family needs will be moved to an umbrella fund for the Community of Compassion to help other families in need. All donations to the Dorm Family at the Community Foundation of Carroll County are tax deductible.