Joseph Bonner Dorsey

Portrait of Joseph Bonner Dorsey No Headstone Photograph Available

Full Name: Joseph Bonner Dorsey
Location: Section:Statesman's Meadow, Section 1 (E)
Row:H  Number:20
Reason for Eligibility: Justice, Court of Appeals, 13th District of Texas 
Birth Date: July 24, 1942 
Died: August 27, 2020 
Burial Date: September 9, 2020 

DORSEY, JOSEPH BONNER (1942 ~ 2020). The following is an obituary for Josseph Bonner Dorsey, former justice of the 13th District Court of Appeals. The obituary was provided by Seaside Funeral Home of Corpus Christi.

Joseph Bonner Dorsey was born on July 24, 1942 and died at home Thursday, August 27, 2020 surrounded by loving family members. Born into one of the founding Irish Catholic families of Corpus Christi his great-great grandfather, Joseph FitzSimmons migrated from Ireland in the 1830’s. Even though his home, land and cattle were in the Corpus Christi region, Joseph FitzSimmons served in the Union Army during the Civil War. FitzSimmons was an attorney and Nueces County Judge. Women in the family also flourished owning land and cattle, earning law degrees in the United States and working as milliners in Monterrey, Mexico. A borderlander by birth, Dorsey grew up hearing stories about his mother and her family who regularly commuted between relatives’ homes in Monterrey and Corpus Christi.

Dorsey’s commitment to learning and helping others led him early on to planning a career in public service as a foreign service officer. After graduation from Corpus Christi College Academy, he attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Following graduation with a B.S.F.S., he attended the University of Texas’ School of Law where he met and married the love of his life Linda Anderson. An ROTC officer following graduation, Dorsey was deployed to Vietnam during calendar year 1969, serving first as a Military Police (MP) Officer, where he was stationed in Long Bien during the second Tet Offensive.

While In Country he was later loaned to the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps of the United States Army where he defended soldiers and entered the field of battle to research their cases. For his service, the U.S. Army awarded Dorsey the Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Campaign Medal with V, for his valor and bravery and released him at the rank of Major. After serving in Vietnam, he returned home to Corpus Christi, where he continued to serve in the Army Reserves, working as a criminal defense attorney and raising his family.

Dorsey was raised in an ardently Catholic household that deeply believed in social justice. Upon his return to Texas, Dorsey and his family were active in progressive politics in the 1970's and 1980’s. In 1985, Dorsey was appointed to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals by Democratic Governor Mark White. Dorsey loved his work at the Court and admired his colleagues. In Texas’s law schools he is particularly known for his thinking in the field of constitutional law, where professors assign his opinions as exemplars. As a Justice, Dorsey sat on high-stakes cases involving millions of dollars, extremely wealthy and powerful people and corporations, and he strove to interpret the law with a keen sense of legal precedent and an eye toward protecting the interest of “the little guy,” With absolute clarity, he made difficult rulings with a profound sense of the impact those rulings would have on working families.

Following retirement, Dorsey travelled across South Texas serving as a “Visiting Judge” until very recently where he resolved dense, complicated, and lengthy cases (often property/land disputes). Dorsey never lost his love of reading cases and working with colleagues in the courthouses across South Texas. Dorsey would return from trips to the courthouse full of stories and joy. Dorsey carried forth his ancestors’ tradition of loving South Texas, the law and a desire to see our world a more just place.

Joseph Bonner Dorsey is survived by his wife of over fifty-two years, Linda Anderson Dorsey; his three children Joseph Allen Dorsey II (Alice) of Pearland, TX, Christopher Arell Dorsey (Jenny) of Corpus Christi, TX, and Margaret Ellen Dorsey (Miguel Díaz-Barriga) of Richmond, VA; and nine grandchildren Carson Bonner, Katherine Alice, William Joseph, Joseph Wesley, James Andrew Arell, Jackson Robert and John Francis Ira Dorsey, as well as Margaret Elizabeth and Miguel Dean Díaz-Barriga, and his niece Sarah Smart Murray (Ryan). Dorsey loved his children and was incredibly proud of all their accomplishments. He also especially enjoyed eating gelato and pan dulce with his grandchildren! His family members feel that he left the world far too soon.

Dorsey will be buried at Texas State Cemetery in Austin, and his family will hold a memorial service once the pandemic subsides. For notification regarding the memorial service please email Margaret at In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either: Catholic Charities / Mother Teresa’s Shelter. Give to: or KEDT-Public Broadcasting System:

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