Surrounded by her three children and having lived a very full and productive life of faith and service, Theodora (Dorothy) Julia Derksen (Loewen) passed on to be with Jesus on Friday, October 20th, at age 90. Dorothy is lovingly remembered by her husband of 66 years, George; daughters Beverley (Warren) Pettit, Millicent (Paul) Anderson, and son Chris (Lois) Derksen; grandchildren Meghan (Trevor) Fabian, Miranda and Claire Pettit, Niel (Louise), Jane and Ellis Anderson, William and Hudson Derksen and her chosen daughter, Darlene (Reg) Wiebe. Dorothy is also survived by siblings Joan Enns, Lily (Al) Quiring, Dave (Elfrieda) Loewen, Art (Lois) Loewen, sister-in-law Esther Loewen Hiebert, Rose Loewen, Ruth (Henry) Dueck, and Grace Janze. She was predeceased by her parents Rev. Peter D. and Mrs. Anna Loewen and her brother Ben Loewen.
The oldest of nine children, Dorothy was born on June 3,1933 in Yarrow B.C., to a farmer and associate pastor in a thriving Mennonite community. She developed a love for reading and proved to be a gifted student. After finishing high school at M.B.C.I. in Winnipeg, Dorothy lived and worked in Vancouver for two years before returning to Winnipeg to attend one year of Bible School at MBBC. The following year she entered Normal School to complete her Teacher’s Certification. Later in life, Dorothy returned to university to complete a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree from the University of Manitoba, and graduate work in education.
In 1956, Dorothy met George Derksen at a choir rehearsal. There was an immediate connection, they fell in love and were married on July 27, 1957. Dorothy faithfully and fully supported George in his journalistic professional and evangelistic endeavours throughout their 66-year marriage. In the early years of their marriage, their ventures enabled them to travel extensively including a hallmark trip to Asia for the Tokyo Expo in 1970. For several years, she worked together with George in their publishing company, serving as an office manager.
Dorothy had a long-time career in education both in the public school system, and for many years at Red River College. She was a talented and highly-intelligent individual who put her skills to good use both professionally and in many volunteer positions she pursued throughout her lifetime — most notably as the producer of the dramatized version of Handel’s Messiah presented at Calvary Temple. She served on boards, committees, organized events, was an exceptional cook and baker and shared her love, encouragement, insight and wisdom liberally and generously.
Dorothy was cut from a rare piece of cloth. Resilient and resourceful, she was born decades before her gifts could be appreciated by most people. She was the model servant leader, even before that term was coined. There was always an extra plate on the table…always an open door for a guest or stranger…. always an open heart…. always. And there were a thousand other hidden acts of thoughtfulness and self-sacrifice that only others around the world can know.
When Dorothy passed, an entire library of Mennonite history vanished. Few people had the encyclopedic memory that Dorothy possessed. All of us remember her telling a story that happened years ago and inevitably someone would ask: “What was the weather like that day?” Without skipping a beat, and without guile, she would report accurately the temperature and the details of events at that time.
The city of Winnipeg also owes Dorothy a thank you for her vision to create a dramatized version of Handel’s ‘Messiah that Calvary Temple, her home church for many years. With a profound command of the scriptures bolted to an artistic sensibility, Dorothy took Job’s triumphant statement, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” and turned it into a moment that continues to linger in our hearts and memories.
Second only to her love for the Saviour was her commitment to immediate and extended family. Each year Dorothy committed herself to organizing family reunions, creating bonds that would help family celebrate future triumphs and overcome life’s inevitable hardships.
In her later years, Dorothy remained an active and independent individual, supporting George with his care needs, continuing to drive a car, and maintained an active and vibrant life. In early October, Dorothy travelled to Edmonton for her grandson’s wedding. In the few days following, she became ill and was admitted to the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton. It is with immense gratitude, the family would like to thank Dr Laz and the ICU team for their exceptional care and compassion.
A funeral service for Dorothy will be held on Saturday, November 4, at 10 am at the Chapel Lawn Funeral Home, 4000 Portage Avenue. Viewing will be at 9 am. Interment at approximately 4 pm at Westridge Memorial Gardens in Winkler, Manitoba.