Great Falls: Author Faces Death but Chooses Life

Great Falls: Author Faces Death but Chooses Life

Robert F. Dorr to speak to the Great Falls Writer’s Group (GFWG) on Thursday, March 10, at the Great Falls Library.

When and Where

When: Thursday, March 10, 11 a.m.

Where: The Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls

Seating: Because a fairly large crowd is expected, an early arrival is recommended (10:30 a.m.) Seating is open. The event is free. No reservations required.


As a writer, this is the singular word that Robert F. Dorr remembers most vividly; the word his doctor used last fall, on the day of his diagnosis, to describe the type of tumor they had just discovered in his brain.

“That particular word sounded strange at the time, especially coming from a trained physician,” Dorr remembers, “but that was clearly the word he intended to use. It was precise and carefully chosen. It told the whole story.”

Dorr’s “story,” as it plays itself out with each passing day, doesn’t have a neatly-packaged, happily-ever-after ending. But this much is clear: Dorr, a prolific author, popular speaker and well-regarded authority on military aviation history, is determined to write his own ending, live out his own life and embrace each day with characteristic spunk, vigor and, yes, courage.

This type of brain tumor, he explains matter-of-factly and without an ounce of pity or sadness in his voice, is one of the most common -- and here, he pauses before adding his own descriptor:

“And it is always fatal.”

Dorr, a former senior diplomat, retired Foreign Service officer and U.S. Air Force veteran, speaks with quiet confidence; the type of confidence that comes from having written eighty books and thousands of magazine articles and newspaper columns.

His newest book, a crime thriller titled “Crime Scene: Fairfax County,” was released in January. While writing it, typing became difficult, at times impossible, yet he completed the project. Dorr seems to see each word he writes (and speaks) as a precious pearl -- and the determined writer continues to string them together, slowly, carefully, one after another, to create a single, shining strand; a thing of pure beauty.

Dorr has two adult children. A lovely, loving wife.

And six to twelve months left to live.

Still, he finds the words to write. The wisdom to share. The lessons to dispense – not just about the art of writing, but the art of living.

This is why the 76-year old author has accepted the invitation to speak to the Great Falls Writer’s Group (GFWG) on Thursday, March 10, at 11 a.m., at the Great Falls Library.

Says Dorr of his upcoming visit: “This meeting will give each of us a chance to learn from the other because every author has a different approach. You don’t have to be the next literary sensation – or even a writer at all –to find surprises as we take you inside the secrets of putting words onto paper.”

Because the life lessons Dorr is expected to share at this meeting will expand far beyond the writer’s lair – his messages are universal in scope, and expansive in reach -- GFWG has decided to open the meeting to the general public as well.

Dorr is excited: “This is going to be fun and educational for writers and non-writers alike,” he says. “I just hope that my sixty years’ experience as a writer will encourage and inspire those who’ll follow me.”

Brian Trompeter, a journalist who has covered Dorr in the past, offers praise and respect for his subject. “He always knows his material thoroughly and gives forthright quotes,” says Trompeter, plus, he adds with warm respect, he “generally is a hoot to interview.”

Several of Dorr’s books will be available for purchase after the event. The author will also stay behind, briefly, to sign books.

Daniela Dixon, manager of the Great Falls Library, is enthusiastic about Dorr’s upcoming visit: “Mr. Dorr is well-known to our libraries,” she says. “He is passionate about his subjects and inspires people with his stories.”

To underscore his desire to leave behind words of wisdom, strength and courage, Dorr has already written a piece for the annual anthology that GFWG will publish in the spring. And though his presence at the unveiling in May is uncertain, his son, Robert P. Dorr, will be on hand to accept the first copy off the presses on behalf of his father. GFWG has also decided to dedicate their anthology to Mr. Dorr.