William DorranceServices will be held on O’ahu tomorrow for historian and

best-selling author, William Henry Dorrance V, 78, who died March 28, while

jogging near his Lanikai home.

Dorrance recently presented a lecture on

“Kaua’i’s Hidden History” at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall. A record

number of people attended his presentation, according to Kaua’i Historical

Society executive director Mary Requilman, who estimated over 200 turned out to

hear him speak. “There were historians in the audience taking notes.”


Lydgate, president of the Kaua’i Historical Society, said, “Dr. Dorrance was

able to fill a hall, give his talk with humor and insight and shed a lot of new

light on darkened areas of Kaua’i’s history. He eliminated and charted

unfathomed waters of Kaua’i’s unique history from the time of the early

century, the Russia-Japanese war through the outbreak of World War II,” during

his lecture.

“What was significant about his remarks was the insight and

perspective he shed on the larger role that Kaua’i and Hawai’i had in America’s

overseas dealings with the Philippines, the Kingdom and the defense of the

Western part of the United States, particularly the careers of Theodore

Roosevelt as Secretary of the Navy and William Howard Taft, as first governor

general of the Philippines,” Lydgate added.

In his lecture, Dorrance

disclosed that his research indicated the War Department had asked the

plantations to build a railway network to tie the cane railways together. In

the event of an invasion and emergency, there would then be a railway network

on each island to take material from major ports and distribute them where

needed. The territorial government subsidized plantations to build the railways

in the 20s and 30s, he said.

The historian also threw more light on the

impact the Great Strike had on the Big 5 plantations during his lecture,

Lydgate said.

Dorrance contended that the strike was the plantations’

death knell. “Labor had shown the power it had to counterbalance the power of

the Big 5 plantations which gradually had to mechanize and modernize their

equipment, becoming one of the most modern and efficient in the world with the

highest paid hourly wages.

Lydgate said “Kaua’i is appreciative of his

efforts on behalf of history and getting student sin history to pass this torch

on to us. We honor him and are grateful for his contributions.”


December 3, 1921 in Highland Park, Michigan, William Dorrance was awarded

Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees by the University of Michigan

and the Doctor of Science degree by Occidental University of St. Louis. Before

moving to Oahu in 1987, Dorrance worked, successively, as Chief of

Aerodynamics, University of Michigan Aeronautical Research Center; Chief of

Aerodynamics, Convair Projects Atlas; Director of Weapons Systems Plans,

Aerospace Corporation; Group Vice President, Conductron Corporation; Chairman,

Interface Systems Corporation; and owner and President, O.C.S., Inc. He is the

author of “Viscous Hypersonic Flow”, a preeminent sourcebook in

aerodynamics. Among his holdings were four patents on synthetic fuels processes

based on his research.

Dorrance completed 33 combat missions as a B-17

pilot with the 8th Air Force during World War II and retired from the Air Force

Reserves with the rank of major.

He took up writing and history when he

and his wife Jan moved to O’ahu. A feature writer for Windward Oahu News for

several years, his book, “Fort Kamehameha The Story of the Harbor Defenses

of Pearl Harbor”, was released in 1993. In 1998 his second book of

Hawaiian history, “Oahu’s Hidden History” was published and was

recognized as a best seller on Oahu. The publication of “Sugar Islands: a

165 Year Story of Sugar in Hawaii” which William co-authored with Francis

S. Morgan is forthcoming. In addition he authored two adventure novels and

contributed articles to several history journals focused mostly on military


William H. Dorrance is survived by his wife, Janet Rogers

Dorrance; daughters Cynthia Goetz of W. Hartford, Connecticut; Rebecca Thornton

of Hanover, Massachusetts and Kaua’i; sons William Henry Dorrance, VI of

Leawood, Kansas and Jay Bolton Dorrance of Ann Arbor; four grandchildren and

one great grandchild.

A memorial service and celebration of William’s

life will be on Lanikai beach (Kaiolena Drive entry) at 5 p.m. Monday, April


“Bill was a man who loved Kaua’i’s history and sharing his knowledge

with those who wanted to learn,” Requilman said. “His warmth, humor and wisdom

brought history to life.”

Dorrance was also a long-time member of the

historical society. “He donated the complete text of his talk to the Society’s

archive so his insight and perspective slant on history will go on living,” she


The Dorrance family says donations may be made in his memory to the

Kauai Historical Society, P.O. Box 1718, Lihue, HI 96766. The donations will be

used to help the society purchase more Kaua’i historic information and books

for its library, Requilman noted.


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