Jay Armstrong Dorschel

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, October 29, 2020

Jay Armstrong Dorschel, 66, passed away Oct. 27 after a month-long battle with cancer, surrounded by friends and family who saw him off on a final bike ride, hike and jog with Jesus into the heaven of which Jay was so certain. 

Jay and older brother Dutch were the two sons of Jim and Jayne Dorschel. The family moved often growing up as Mr. Dorschel was promoted at DuPont. While working at a local radio station in college at Hampden Sydney, Jay spotted a pretty girl through the control room glass and decided on the spot Mary Alice Webb was the girl for him and hoped she agreed. She did and has been his faithful girl for 43 years. The married couple moved to Suffolk in 1980 with Jay joining the family business, Nansemond Insurance Agency, and Jay said he would try it for a year and hoped it would work. That hope was also answered as Jay became an owner and then a mentor to a daughter, three nephews, and a son-in-law at Nansemond. He was the spiritual leader of the business, whose “Father God” prayers carried the staff through celebration and mourning alike and whose optimism often saved the day. The three young owners simply adore Jay.

Three daughters and a son later, the home in Riverview became a boiling mixture of kids, dogs, and friends. A neighborhood meeting place where love loudly pursued happiness. Jay knew how to have a good time and make everyone an accepted part of his fun. Occasionally in his younger days, the good times became a bit wilder than normally accepted. Jay was always forgiven because he would always forgive.


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He put down deep roots in Suffolk as Jay loved fiercely and was fiercely loved in return. Jay coached and umpired numerous youth sports and served on the board of the Suffolk Salvation Army Suffolk Corp and Community Center, and as President of the Board of Directors of the Edmarc Hospice for Children. Jay supported St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis in fundraising.

Jay loved God first and carried his faith openly in action, a fixture at Bible Study on Tuesdays at the Plaid Turnip restaurant, leading prayers at every business meeting and serving for 20 years in jail ministry. Jay was a member of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, where he served as an elder and a deacon and was a member of McDowell Presbyterian Church in McDowell Va. near the Dorschel mountain home.

Jay was a passionate outdoorsman, riding century rides on his bike and running marathons, opening his life to his close friends while on the road, courageous enough to be vulnerable and so completely trustworthy and optimistic that his friends could likewise share anything in life with Jay. Anything, at least, but a car ride. Jay drove as he lived, in a hurry to see the next good thing.

Jay and Mary Alice enjoyed traveling across the country in their small camper that gave closeness a new meaning and loved their mountain home in McDowell, walking the trails and, bumping the truck across the river ford to hunt the nearby farm.

Jay is survived by wife, Mary Alice Webb Dorschel; daughters, Lizzie Dorschel, Rebecca Naim and husband Mike, Julia Gilday and husband Justin and son Vic; and seven grandchildren, Jayce, Savanna, Allie, Taylor Faye, Layla, Asher and Meikhai.

To his family, he was Super Jay, able to make or fix anything in the shop, the encourager, the rock, whom you followed when a loud voice said, “Hey, come over here and see this.” When Lizzie was eight, Jay was told her brain tumor was hopeless. Hopeless is a word that could not fit into his world. Lizzie is now a beautiful 27 years old. On Jay’s desk is a plaque from the 2003 St Jude marathon, saying Jay Dorschel is a St Jude Hero. And so he is, their always hopeful hero.

A private service in memory was held at the family home. R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, 509 W. Washington St. is serving the family.

Donations may be made to Salvation Army Suffolk VA Corp and Community Center, 400 Bank Street, or the Southeastern Correctional Ministry, 40 Kings Way, Hampton, or https://www.secorrmin.com. Condolences may be registered at RWBakerFh.com.