Just a man and his car: Janesville native returns home in his 1939 Chevy after 30 years

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Samantha Jacquest
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

JANESVILLE–One day, 1,300 miles and a restored 1939 Chevy Master Deluxe.

That is what it took for Steve Dorcey to drive from Wildwood, Fla., to his hometown of Janesville for his first extended visit in almost 30 years.

Not only did Dorcey work on the classic car for two years to make it road-trip ready, he also had to plan dialysis treatments during his extended stays in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Janesville. Dorcey needs the diabetes treatment every other day, and he had to plan his trip accordingly and make sure he felt up to the drive. But this is nothing new for Dorcey.

“I've ridden motorcycles since I was a kid, and the last couple years I've taken some pretty big trips,” Dorcey said, adding that the trips were against the wishes of his kidney doctor, who said Dorcey didn't know how he would feel.

“And he was right. I didn't realize how bad I would feel, and in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have gone, but I'm old, I'm stupid, so I went for it.”

And that's what he did this time.

“It was time to come home,” Dorcey said. “I'm getting older, and my health isn't the greatest. When you understand that, you think, 'I'm feeling pretty good today; let's do this.'”

A graduate of Craig High School's class of 1970, Dorcey worked at the General Motors  plant in Janesville for 12 years, then transferred to Fort Wayne, Ind., for 25 years. When it was time to retire, Dorcey decided to get away from the cold he had always hated and rest up in Florida.

Dorcey was diagnosed with Stage 1 diabetic kidney disease and had kidney failure in 2002 while working in Indiana. He is now at Stage 5, which requires him to have the dialysis treatments every other day. Dorcey described his condition as a "downward spiral."

Through all the years of working and dealing with his medical condition, Dorcey found time to work on classic cars, leading up to his 1939 Chevy, which he bought two years ago from someone who wasn't getting much use from it.

“The worst thing you can do to a car, new or old, is not drive it,” Dorcey said. “I don't expect to win any awards at car shows. I've never owned a car that would be capable of that because I got them all for one reason, and that was to go out and enjoy it and let other people enjoy it.”

Dorcey was excited to show off his car to old friends Wednesday at the Milwaukee Grill in Janesville, where fellow 1970 graduates reunited with Dorcey for the first time in 30 years.

Pixie Miller, one of the 1970 graduates, organized the lunch after she saw on Facebook that Dorcey was planning the trip to Janesville. She thought it was a nice thing to do out of respect for Dorcey making the tedious journey in his condition.

“I've never had to challenge myself to do what he has done to get here,” Miller said. “We're getting older. You lose people, and then they're just gone. When you have a chance to get together, do it.”

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