The Rev. Edward W. Dorn, 85, of Pedricktown, N.J., a longtime SEPTA employee who served as pastor of Second Baptist Church of Pedricktown for 37 years, died Friday, Nov. 15, at his home of heart disease.
Rev. Dorn, a SEPTA trolley driver who became an instructor and district superintendent for the transit agency, was called to the ministry at age 40, his wife, Charlotte Evans Dorn, said.
For years, he served in a prison ministry at the Salem County Correctional Facility on Sunday nights, his wife said. One day while he was shopping, a man heard him speaking and walked over to introduce himself.
“He told him, ‘I got converted in the prison under your ministry, and now I am a minister,’" Mrs. Dorn recalled.
A few days ago, a lawyer called to say he would never forget how Rev. Dorn helped him and another lawyer about 12 years ago, she said. The lawyer had been driving a rental car when police stopped it, searched the car, and found a marijuana cigarette. He and his passenger were going to be arrested, but the lawyer called Rev. Dorn, who intervened and the men were released.
Rev. Dorn was born in Pittsgrove, Salem County, to Edward West and Hattie Dorn-Outlaw. He grew up as the second oldest in a blended family of five children, reared mostly in Philadelphia by his mother and stepfather Theodore Outlaw.
After graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1952, he attended the Pennsylvania Baptist School of Christian Education in Pittsburgh.
While taking part in a Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Convention in Pittsburgh in 1956, Rev. Dorn, then 21, met Charlotte Evans, a high school senior.
“I met him the day after I turned 17,” said Rev. Dorn’s wife of 59 years. Although both lived in Philadelphia within walking distance of each other, they had never met before, Mrs. Dorn said.
Rev. Dorn was drafted into the Army in 1958 and served in Germany. After he left the service in 1960, the two married that year.
“He was the only boyfriend I ever had,” Charlotte Dorn said.
For the next 10 years, the couple lived in Philadelphia, where Rev. Dorn worked for SEPTA. They moved to New Jersey in 1970.
At 40, while working for SEPTA full-time, Rev. Dorn began taking courses at Gloucester County College, now Rowan College of South Jersey, and later studied industrial psychology at Glassboro State College, now Rowan University.
“He was a bright, bright man,” his wife said. “He was interested in everything. He read two or three newspapers a day.”
In 1976, Rev. Dorn was named minister of Second Baptist, one year before he was ordained as pastor, his wife said. He retired in 2013.
Rev. Dorn earned doctorates in ministry and theology from Covington Theological Seminary in 1989, three years after retiring from SEPTA.
The Gloucester County and Salem County branches of the NAACP honored him, and he was named alumnus of the year of Covington in 1991. In 2007, Second Baptist opened the Edward W. Dorn Community Center in his honor.
He was a member of the executive board of New Jersey’s Black Ministers Council and had been a commissioner of the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
In addition to his wife, Rev. Dorn is survived by a daughter, Sharon; a son, Edward; a sister; 13 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.