October 18, 2008

Ind. woman seeking her roots lands in Ogden

Thursday, October 9, 2008
Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN -- Nearly 61 years after she was left for adoption at a New York City hospital, Indiana resident Rosemary Sorensen Hollis found her birth father, Orvil Mural Sorensen, buried in an unmarked grave at Ogden City Cemetery.

Now with some help from the public, she wants to get to know the man.

Hollis, now a grandmother herself, began a 1,500-mile sojourn to Ogden from Indiana last weekend with her husband in hopes of learning more about the father she never knew.

"Never did I ever suspect that my roots were out West," Hollis said in an e-mail before her visit.

"Needless to say, I am very interested in finding out all that I can about him and my Sorensen relatives."

The trip is the result of a search that began in 1992 with a scrap of information from the adoption agency.

"They only told me that I was born in a hotel in Manhattan and my birth mother had gone to the hotel with a soldier," she said.

Hollis said she's been able to piece together part of her family's story through an assortment of records she has collected over the years.

From what she has discovered, her father, known to be a rough-and-tumble kid from Ogden, joined the Army after a stint at a local reform school and met her mother while stationed near Welfare Island, N.Y.

It was in a hotel near there where Hollis was born May 2, 1947, three months premature. Hollis said her then-21-year-old father rushed with her and her mother in an ambulance to the New York Foundling Hospital following her birth.

She isn't sure what happened next, but apparently her father returned to military duty and her mother disappeared.

The only explanation Hollis has received is from the social services department at the hospital, which informed her that while her mother was recovering from labor, she received a visit from her upset mother, who said she couldn't bring the baby home.

"I was at the hospital for six months, and then my grandmother suggested I be sent to the adoption home," Hollis said.

Tracking down her mother has proven fruitless because she checked herself into the hospital under an alias, Hollis said.

Decades later, she was able to find her biological father's name on a baptismal certificate and traced him back to 859 Canyon Road in Ogden.

It was a eureka moment, she said.

"I can't begin to explain to you what finding the name of my dad has meant to me.

"I have searched for so many years. Unfortunately, due to my age and the fact that my father is now deceased, I realize that many of the older people are now gone."

Standing by her father's unmarked grave, Hollis said she had mixed feelings about her discoveries.

"I feel like I finally have found a root, a connection. Everyone needs to have that ... It makes me feel sad that I didn't know him," she said.

Orvil Mural Sorensen, called "Sarge" by friends, would be in his 80s if he were alive today.

Hollis said he worked at Defense Depot Ogden, was very active in CB radio circles and loved to camp in the Monte Cristo area. He also loved to collect records and ride his motorcycles.

She hopes to find anyone who may have known Sorensen, even secondhand, and might be willing to share memories of him.

"I just want people to understand that we're not looking for anything other than to get to know who he was and what he was about," Hollis said.

She said she plans to compile all the information she's learned about Sorensen into a scrapbook for her grandchildren.

"I want to be able to put everything together and eventually give it to them, so they can have it," she said.

Anyone with information about Orvil "Sarge" Sorensen is encouraged to call Hollis at (765) 432-7121 or e-mail her at indianahollis@AOL.com.

She said she plans to stay in Ogden until the end of this week.

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