American Veteran 01

Erl Dordal

September 22, 1927 ~ May 11, 2022 (age 94)


Erl Dordal, age 94, passed away on May 11, 2022 with members of his family at his side. He was born in the Lutheran parsonage in Larimore, North Dakota on September 22, 1927. His father was Rev. Dr. Lars Andreas Dordal (born in Telemark, Norway in 1884). His mother was Clara Wegge Dordal (born in 1899 on a farm near Buxton, North Dakota). Lars Dordal emigrated with his family to the USA in 1893. Erl was the youngest of five children: Raymond, Adeline, Harald, and Lyall.

Erl attended Larimore schools, graduating from high school in 1945 as Class Valedictorian. He received letters in basketball and track. During summers he worked on farms. Often this involved driving a team of horses, pulling mowers, rakes, hay stackers and reapers. In 1945 he was the hired man for a farm that had no electricity and no plumbing; however, they did use tractors rather than horses.

During his senior year of high school he tried to enlist in both the Army and the Navy. He was rejected, however, due to his eyesight. He then started at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. That winter he was drafted, and this time passed the eye test. He entered the service in February 1946. He volunteered for the Signal Corps and was stationed at Fort Monmouth, NJ. He became an instructor in charge of the Elements of Radar course. He was discharged in August 1948.

During his service in the army he became aware of the University of Chicago. He was reading a book, The Evolution of Physics; on the back of the book was a review by a U of C professor. He applied there and was accepted.

He was active in many student organizations. They included the Lutheran Student Association, Interchurch Council, Student Government and All Campus Peace Week. His original academic interest was Physics, but he later decided to proceed on to medical school. He completed his undergraduate studies in 1952.

Erl was married to Mildred "Milly" Reinke in 1952. Mildred received an MSW from the U of C.

He was accepted to the U of C medical school, and graduated in 1956. He completed a one-year internship at the U of C, followed by a surgical residency at Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse WI. He switched to Medicine, and completed a two-year residency back at the U of C. There he was the Chief Medical Resident 1960-1961, and completed a two-year fellowship in Gastroenterology.

He continued as a faculty member at the University of Chicago Medical School until 1969, working on research related to the liver. At that point he moved to the VA Lakeside Hospital where he served as Chief of Gastroenterology, with a faculty appointment at Northwestern University.

In 1976 he moved to the Columbus-Cuneo-Cabrini Medical Center as Chief of the Medical Service, while continuing his Northwestern appointment. He remained at the 3C's Medical Center until his retirement in 1991.

During retirement he studied Egyptology, working as a docent at the Oriental Institute and learning the Egyptian hieroglyphics language. He also worked as a tutor at an adult literacy program in Hyde Park. Solving puzzles, be it the Rubik's Cube or the New York Times Crossword puzzle, provided much enjoyment for Erl. 

He and Milly had four children, Peter (Peg), Kristin (Paul Poerschke), Andrew (Anne) and Lisa (Laurie Samuels). He instilled in all of them his lifelong love of learning.

He was very active for many years as a member of Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park. He was also an ardent supporter of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as a strong advocate for civil rights throughout his life. Erl loved to travel across both the US and the world, seldom visiting any place more than once. Erl was also a member of the Chicago Literary Club for over 50 years.

His dear wife Milly passed away in 2001. In 2002, Erl married Dorothy "Dotty" Powers of Atlanta. They eventually settled in Atlanta. Dotty passed away in 2021, and Erl moved to a retirement facility in Pennsylvania to be closer to his family.

Erl is survived by his four children, by Dotty's children Vicki (Colm) and Carl Powers, by ten grandchildren (Matthew, Fernando, Qoc'avib, Rachel and Margaret; David, Andrew and Elise; Christopher and Nancy), and by eight great-grandchildren (Paul, Amelia, Leonardo, Henry, Calvin, Kaia, Leni and Charlotte).

Arrangements are through the McDonald-Aeberli Funeral Home, 238 Crowe Ave. Mars, PA. Online condolences are available at There will be a memorial service at a later date. Memorials can be made to the Lyric Opera of Chicago (, the University of Chicago ( or the charity of your choice. 

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