Lonnie Jim Dorgan

1950 -  

Lonnie Dorgan, a tenor and instrumentalist, has been active in music since he was a small child. Even though he pursued studies in and has taught chemistry at two Seventh-day Adventist colleges, he has also been a participant in and conductor of a number of music ensembles and is a published arranger.

Lonnie was born in Walla Walla, Washington, and raised in Pendleton, Oregon, one of four children born to Leo James and Anna Adel Surdahl Dorgan. From his earliest studies in music at age six on accordion, he demonstrated a natural talent and at age seven changed to the violin, which he studied for two years. He then took piano lessons from which he gained knowledge about basic music theory and form.

At age eleven, he started clarinet lessons and a few months later joined the band. In eighth grade, he persuaded his parents to let him start percussion lessons, a longstanding dream on his part, a concession they made only with the understanding that clarinet practice would be done first, before practice on the new family of instruments. Although he did not play percussion in his junior academy band in Pendleton, he did in the band at Mount Ellis Academy in Montana, during his junior and senior years.

Following graduation from MEA in1967, Dorgan enrolled at Walla Walla College, now University, as a chemistry major. In his freshman year he took lessons on tympani and then during the remaining three years served as principal percussionist. When he returned to WWC to pursue a master's degree in education after three years of teaching, he played the alto clarinet in the college band. Instead of completing that degree, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska to work on a Ph.D. in chemistry and played the contrabass clarinet in the band at nearby Union College.

Following completion of his doctorate in 1982, he taught at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, in Maryland, where he again assumed leadership in the percussion section in its concert band. He has since participated in two community bands.

He has sung in numerous church choirs and was the tenor in a gospel quartet for many years. He has also assisted in directing church choirs when needed.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, he became an ardent student of handbells, playing in handbell choirs and ensembles and also as a soloist. He subsequently organized a handbell choir and now directs two handbell choirs in a Lutheran church in Middletown, near Dayton, Ohio. In 1998 Dorgan married Joan Ulloth, a handbell soloist, ensemble ringer, and director with many years of experience.

Dorgan, who is chair of the chemistry/geology department at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, has dabbled in music composition for years and is presently focusing on writing and arranging works for handbells. Two of his arrangements for handbell ensemble, God So Loved the World (John Stainer) and Invention #8 (J.S. Bach), have been published. He and his wife have assisted in organizing and directing festivals involving as many as fifteen handbell choirs.


Sources: Information provided by Lonnie Dorgan, May 2011 and 2013: personal knowledge.