An obituary for a man who stood for something

Orin Doty, who died late last month, provides today’s quote worth remembering: “One person doing something is better than a thousand people doing nothing.”

That nugget is in Star Tribune reporter Randy Furst’s excellent obituary today.

Doty, of Rochester, Minn., was — like his father before him — a conscientious objector to war, and the guy behind a lot of letters to the editor opposing military aggression.

No doubt he had supporters and opponents. But he stood for something. And because he did, he went to prison. Twice.

In the early 1950s, during the onset of the Korean War, he and his brothers Joel, Paul and Sid refused to register for the draft and were convicted in federal court and sent to prison. Someone registered them, according to his daughter, so when they got out of prison, they received a military call-up notice. They refused to show up for induction, were convicted again and sent to prison a second time.

As they walked from the federal courthouse on March 29, 1955, to the Ramsey County jail to begin their two-year sentence, one brother, Joel Doty, handed reporters a statement reaffirming their belief that “conscription and war is wrong,” and declaring that “we feel that we are going back to prison for the second time for the same offense.”

He didn’t want to go to prison again, yet there was the Vietnam war to protest. So he showed up in a jacket and tie, his daughter tells Furst. The cops arrested the long-hairs instead.

According to his obituary, Doty rehabbed the family home “and was proud that he could pay off the mortgage on that home in only three years.”

In his last letter to the editor, which appeared in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, he offered another quip worth considering.

“We can each contribute according to our ability to a more civil and humane world,” he wrote.