William Mann Dobriner

10/18/2011 3:38 PM |

Former Cutchogue resident William Mann Dobriner died Oct. 8 in Nazareth, Pa. He was 89.

Born in 1922 in Springfield, Mass., he grew up in Queens and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. On the GI Bill, he earned his undergraduate degree at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and his Ph.D. in sociology at Columbia University in New York City.

He married Eileen Phypers, whom he met at Queens College after the war, and they raised three children on Long Island. In 1971 they moved to College Hill in Easton, Pa., and spent summers at their home on Nassau Point in Cutchogue.

Dr. Dobriner was a Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology and chair of the department of anthropology and sociology at Lafayette College in Easton from 1971 to 1988. He also chaired the Hofstra University sociology department from 1959 to 1961 and 1966 to 1969, and taught at The City College of New York from 1959 to 1967, and the University of Vermont from 1969 to 1970.

He specialized in sociological theory and social class, with particular focus on the new suburbs and growth patterns on Long Island in the 1950s and 1960s, as reflected in his books, “Class in Suburbia,” “Social Structures and Systems” and “The Suburban Community.” His article “Freedom and Authority” was published by the Yale Review in the 1970s.

According to family members, the late Robert Moses, former New York City parks commissioner and state power commissioner, conferred with Dr. Dobriner about his research and findings.

After he retired from Lafayette College in 1988, family said, he wrote adventure novels under the pen name Frank J. Kenmore about a college professor/spymaster named Colin Smallpiece, a protagonist of Indiana Jones-like proportions. He began jogging every day in the 1960s and continued into his early 80s, they said, and was an avid woodworker, filling his homes with clocks, cabinets, bookshelves and end tables.

Predeceased by his wife and two brothers, Dr. Dobriner is survived by his children, Gail Dobriner Wertheim, Jill Dobriner and Scott Dobriner, and two grandchildren.