The birth of Day-Timers®

Morris Perkin - Inventor of the Day-Timer®

Day-Timer® was the brainchild of Morris Perkin (19091976), a successful Pennsylvania attorney with an idea for a better way for lawyers to manage their time.

He took his invention, originally named Lawyer's Day, to my father's family for production, who at the time owned and operated Dorney Printing.

I remember Mr. Perkin as a kind old man, always smiling and very generous. When I was a young boy, sometimes my Pops would bring me along when they would meet at his house, which was often during the early throes of the business circa 1965.

He had a beautiful home off Sauerkraut Lane near Macungie, Pennsylvania USA, which at the time was surrounded by nature and beauty. I'd spend hours in his pool, explore the neighboring woods and creek bed, and end up lounging in his air-conditioned basement watching his newfangled color tv.

All the while, my father and Morris were sequestered in his study, plotting on how to best to serve the time management needs of the world.

Chicken coop start-up

Dorney Printing had its start in a chicken coop in the village of East Texas, Pennsylvania in 1938. My grandfather, Warren Dorney, started the part time printing business behind the Dorney house along with his three young sons.

After several years of operation, the old chicken coop burned to the ground. Operations were temporarily run out of the family house, with a typeset cabinet in the kitchen and a press on the back sun porch until a replacement building could be built out back.

My father, the oldest of the six Dorney children, had his participation in the business interrupted by the draft and World War II. That's him in his Air Corps uniform below.

back row: William Dorney, Jean Dorney (Walk), Betty Dorney (Grey), Richard Dorney front row: Warren Dorney, Mabel Dorney (Sandt), Nancy Dorney (Steltz), Robert Dorney

Tragically, my grandfather Warrenwhom I never metwas killed in a car crash on December 31, 1949, not long after the above photograph was taken.

Day-Timer's Humble Beginnings: From left to right: long-time pressman Bobby Ibach, William Dorney, Jean Walk, Robert Dorney, Richard Dorney

Dorney Printing, buoyed by the efforts of my grandmother and all six kids, carried on.

The above picture is one of the earliest of the business. A framed print of it was given to me as a gift by my Uncle Bill (William Dorney2nd from the left), who years ago noticed me admiring a copy of it at his house. It hangs in a place of honor in my office.

It's also related to one of my earliest memories of my Mom (Audrey Dorney, 19241994). I remember, with her powerful magnifying glass, very cleverly discovering a small calendar in the lower right-hand corner of this picture that showed February of 1951, solving the mystery as to when it was taken.

A team effort

This very industrious family took Morris Perkin's idea and ran with it. They literally grew Day-Timers from the ground up.

As the business grew, so did the buildings. From the ashes of the chicken coop sprouted building after building, enveloping my Nana's house and garage and replacing the cornfield that ran along Spring Creek.

The old Dorney house and back porch still stand, surrounded by those behemoth buildings. My grandmother, Mabel Sandt, lived there until her passing May 19, 2015.

At Nana's 100th Birthday Party: back row: Richard Dorney, Robert Dorney, Nancy Steltz, William Dorney front row: Betty Grey, Mabel Sandt, Jean Walk

Our matriarch

Mabel Sandt and grandson Keith Dorney

This remarkable woman didn't have much of a commute during the many decades she worked at Day-Timers. She slowed down some by her 107th birthday, and passed along shortly thereafter.

She loved her 6 children dearly, as well as the dozens and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We love you too Nana!

More recent Day-Timer® history

The family sold the business to Beatrice Foods® back in 1972. My Pops continued serving as the company's president and eventually as head of product development before his retirement in 1989.

Day-Timer has survived despite computers and smart phones. They're currently owned by ACCO Brands Corporation, who in June of 2013 moved the entire operation from East Texas, Pennsylvania to their facilities in New York, Ohio, and Illinois.