John H. Dossett 8/1/2020
John Hamilton Dossett, 82, died peacefully July 29, 2020, on the farm as was his wish, with his wife Darlene by his side. He was born on July 21, 1938, in Whistler, AL, and was the son of William and Ella Mae Dossett.
Dr. Dossett was a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He was a pioneer infectious disease specialist and a pediatrician who worked at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine for 47 years. His career began there in 1971 and included decades-long work in diseases ranging from scarlet fever to AIDS. In the late 1980s, he established the first pediatric HIV clinic in the region during the emergence of the disease. He also represented the College of Medicine as a visiting professor internationally. As a caring clinician, he would occasionally harness a carriage pony to his antique doctor’s buggy and make a neighborhood house call to a sick child.
In addition to his wife, John is survived by sons John Dossett (Stephanie) of Portland, OR; William Dossett (Zoe) of Minneapolis; James Dossett (Lori) of Philadelphia; and daughter Laurelyn Dossett (Scott) of Westfield, NC; stepchildren Miranda Resnick of Hardwick, VT, and Ivan Resnick of Palmyra, PA; grandchildren Emilia, Rosalie, Sophie, Sydney, Samantha, Asa, and Cyrus; brother Lynn Dossett of Mobile, AL, and sisters Ellen Dossett (Ann) and Rebecca Dossett, both of Birmingham, AL.
John and Darlene’s farm was a sanctuary for them. A patient, self taught woodworker, John loved furnishing the farmhouse and building onto it. He also had a sixth sense for adventure that occasionally led to misadventure. Once, a large, wild beehive was found in a neighbor’s barn. Off John went with a smoker to calm the worker and guard bees in a new, untested beekeeper’s suit. Outraged guard bees followed the pickup home in pursuit of their colony and honey.
On another occasion, he went on an impulsive solo kayak search in the snake-infested waters of Alabama’s Chickasabogue Creek. He was hoping to spot the possibly extinct ivory-billed woodpecker (also known as the “Lord God bird”). John was certain he had seen it 60 years earlier, and ornithologists were believed to have spotted it again. But the river had changed over the years and so had John. When the helicopter couldn’t locate him by midnight, the local folks tracked him down. Returning home shaken, but resolute, he soon tracked one down in the Reading Museum, where it had been stuffed away for half a century.
As a man of ever expanding and deepening personal faith, John Dossett was tolerant, confident, and curious. He honored death’s mysteries as they approached.
In memory of Dr. Dossett, should you desire, feel free to make a contribution to a nonprofit organization of your choice. Perhaps:
• Lebanon County Conservation District. If designated by you, world class farmland can be protected from development in perpetuity. Six cents saves one square foot of land. https://www.lccd.org/
• Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, who gave of themselves without measure. https://hospiceofcentralpa.org/
• The Pediatric Division of Infectious Diseases (including Covid 19 in children), Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. A specific area can be designated as a recipient: https://childrens.pennstatehealth.org/community/give
A private memorial service at this time of pandemic will be held at a later date.
The family wants you to know the farm is in full bloom and they are already surrounded by the gift of flowers.