Former Dow chemist honored as Midland’s Philanthropist of the Year

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The Midland Area Community Foundation recognized Dr. Linnaeus, “Lin,” Dorman as its Philanthropist of the Year during its annual Ripple Effect event this week at the Nicholson-Guenther Band Shell in Central Park. 

Some Midland residents might know Dorman as a “history maker” for his work with Dow Chemical. Others might know him from regularly attending the United Church of Christ on Sundays in Midland.

Dorman retired as a senior associate scientist from Dow in 2000. He was the first Black chemist at the company when he began his Dow career on Nov. 1, 1960. 


In 1983, Dorman was also named Inventor of the Year by Dow. He has been credited with more than 20 inventions and patents in organic chemistry and biomaterials. 

“At last, the education that my parents had sought for me was complete,” said Dorman regarding his career at Dow. 

Years ago, Dorman earned the title of history maker when the nation’s largest African American historical archive, The HistoryMakers collection, featured his story. In 2014, the Daily News previously reported Dorman’s work began with a chemistry set – which was a friend’s Christmas gift. 

“That was my first introduction to chemistry, and I’ve been associated with the field ever since,” said Dorman on the historical archives, which are the Library of Congress reserves, in 2012.

In the historical archives, Dorman discusses the value his parents’ placed on education. He was born in 1935 to parents who started out as rural school teachers who highly valued the education system. 

Now, Dorman’s philanthropy work touches local education systems through various scholarship funds. 

The Daily News: What prompted your philanthropy work specifically relating to education?

Dorman: “Not every parent was able to save enough money to help them (people interested in attending college) and education seems to be increasing faster than inflation, so without help from other people – our kids would not be able to go to school. It pleases me to know that they are taking advantage of opportunities that they have by going to school.”

Some of your scholarships are named after historical figures, such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Could you tell me about those scholarships?

“They’re my heroes. They did a wonderful thing in their lifetimes that benefits every Black American, so I have the highest regard for their service.”

Midland prides itself as being a city of chemists. As a former chemist who’s still local to Midland, what does City of Chemists mean to you?

“Well, it’s interesting that you’re involved in so many things and then you retire. (Then,) someone takes your place and progress is made – the company grows… So, it shows you that you were just ‘a cog in the wheel.’ When you have done your job, you move out of the way and let somebody else continue. That’s what I think about.” 

Could you tell me about what Midland was like when you worked at Dow?

“Well, I had a lot of experiences. For one thing, we didn’t develop a ‘ghetto’ where we all lived in the same area, we were more or less scattered throughout the city. And you won’t find many made towns in this country, like that most cities are segregated. Fortunately, ours was not. My kids had problems, but they were able to overcome them.”

What was it like to attend the Midland Area Community Foundation’s Ripple Effect event as an honoree?

“They do a lot of things for the community. They’ve grown and they do a wonderful thing. (MACF President and CEO) Sharon Mortensen is keeping the foundation (in) the public eye and a lot of people who’ve gone to work and retire are giving to the foundation because it has been successful in its attempt to help the community in so many ways.”

What motivates you to give back? 

“I’ve been able to give back much more than I received over a period of time. So, I’m very proud of the fact that I’m helping students who would otherwise not be able to go to school. It does me a lot of good.”

Dorman was honored at the Midland Area Community Foundation’s annual “Ripple Effect” event, which took place Wednesday, to celebrate local philanthropy efforts. 

He shared his memories of the chemistry set with the more than 100 Midland area residents in attendance. 

The story of his friend’s chemistry set dates back to Orangeburg, South Carolina where Dorman was born to parents who started out as rural schoolteachers and valued education. 

For more on Dorman’s feature in The HistoryMakers collection, click here.

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