In Memoriam: Peter Paul Dorner

Peter Paul Dorner was born in Luxemberg, Wis. on Jan. 13, 1925, to Peter and Monica (Altmann) Dorner. He married Lois Cathryn Hartnig on Dec. 26, 1950. Peter served in the U. S. Army Infantry from Aug. 1, 1944, to Aug. 15, 1946, as an infantry soldier of the 41st Division and part of the invasion force that landed at Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Islands on March 10, 1945. Upon honorable discharge, he returned to that 80 acre farm three and ½ miles south by southwest of the Village of Luxemberg, which he operated with his parents until the time that it was sold in 1948. Peter retained vivid and happy memories of growing up on that farm. To him, that was a more significant part of his identity than the fact that he had a Ph.D. from Harvard University. And the interesting irony here is that he never attended high school. He was awarded a GED diploma in 1948, the year he began his studies at UW-Madison.

Peter received a B.S. degree in Agricultural Economics in 1951. The M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was awarded to him in 1953. And in 1959, he received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. He taught and did research at the University of Tennessee in 1953-54. From 1954-56 he taught Farm Management and Rural Development to Extension Agents throughout the state of Wisconsin. He also did research and teaching at Harvard from 1957-59. From 1959 until he retired in 1989, he was Professor of Agricultural Economics at UW-Madison. From 1963-65 he was Professor of Agricultural Economics at the Graduate School of the University of Chile in Santiago. From 1967-68 he was Senior Staff Economist with the U. S. President’s Council of Economic Advisors. From 1980-89 he served as Dean of International Studies and Programs at UW-Madison.

Peter authored or co-authored six professional books; he authored one or more chapters in 17 multi-authored books. He authored numerous articles in professional journals and equal numbers in Extension outlets and the Popular Press. Peter’s last book, which many have enjoyed, was “Growing up in Wisconsin and My Life Beyond.” Peter was a man of great character; he had a wonderful sense of humor and excelled when it came to gardening. His family will always treasure the memories made each year during their summer retreat together at Lake Noquebay, where they fished every day!

Peter is survived by his wife, Lois (Hartnig) Dorner; and his children, Catherine (Mark) Mathwick, Gregory L. (Sharon Larson) Dorner, Paul J. Dorner, Sara J. (John Becker) Dorner and Carolyn R. Dorner. Peter was preceded in death by his parents, Peter and Monica Dorner; brothers, Killian and Clarence; and sisters, Aurelia Coppens and Johanna (Joey) Mleziva.

Memorial services will be held at a later date. The family wishes to extend a special thank you to Agrace HospiceCare, Inc. for their compassionate and loving care given to Pete. Online condolences may be made at