William Dorsett

Obituary of William Clay Dorsett

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Obituary for William Clay Dorsett (January 8, 1930 – July 12, 2023)

William Clay “Bill” Dorsett died in his home on July 12, 2023. He was 93.  Born in Randolph County in 1930, Bill’s family moved to a small family farm in Orange County when he was 14 years old. He attended Aycock High School and then NC State University to study Agricultural Education. He worked as an artificial breeding technician and regional rep for Curtis Breeding Service. Bill served in the Army where he met and married Elaine, the love of his life, in 1955. After his service, he used his life’s savings of $1500 to purchase an interest in his father’s small dairy farm and eventually built it into a high-producing herd of 160 registered Holstein cattle. Bill was relentless in his farming efforts, and even the loss of a leg in a 1982 farm accident didn’t slow down his drive & determination. He continued in the dairy business until April 1, 1987 when Dorsettacres, Inc. liquidated all livestock. Bill then pivoted to black Angus cattle & hay production, until he retired completely in 2021.

In 1960 Bill was named Orange County’s Outstanding Young Farmer. For seven decades he worked the farm and promoted the interests and importance of agriculture. He served on the boards of both the Orange County and N.C. Farm Bureau. He founded the Orange County Agribusiness Council to advocate for farmers in the media and the legislature. He was involved in every aspect of his rural community by participating on the District School Committee, PTA County Council, the Farmer’s Exchange, ASCS, NC Ag Foundation, Area Development Group, Ruritan Club, Orange County Extension Advisors Board, and the Orange County 4-H Dairy Show Committee. In 2008 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Orange/Durham Cattleman’s Association.

He was a lifelong supporter and avid fan of the NC State Wolfpack, watching football games from the same seats in Carter-Finley Stadium since 1966. He chaired the Orange County Wolfpack Club and endowed a need- and merit-based scholarship at the NC State University School of Veterinary Medicine. For much of his life he drove a red car, a red truck, and a red tractor – and he proudly wore his NCSU hats and jackets. 


Even with all of his career and community accomplishments, his greatest legacy will always be the generous way he treated other people and his commitment to helping anyone who needed a hand. He loved socializing with friends and eating out at his favorite local diners, and would often be seen buying a meal or two for a friend or stranger, seated nearby.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Robin Dorsett, his daughter and son-in-law Debra and Keith Hanson, and four loving grandchildren: Jordan, Kennedy, Chase, and Casey, plus his grandchildren-in-law, Savannah & Trey. He is preceded in death by his wife Elaine.

An informal celebration of Bill’s life will be held at Huey’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Mebane, NC on Monday, July 31st from 4 – 8 PM. All are welcome to attend, share your Bill Dorsett stories, and drink a Yuengling beer in his memory.

Walker's Funeral Home of Hillsborough is assisting the Family.

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