Dorothy Diers, a strong woman, practical, of exceptional grace and generosity, died Feb. 7 at Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community in Washington state. She was 96.
The former Dorothy Lange was born on July 21, 1923, in Long Beach, Calif., the daughter of the Rev. William Lange and Elsa (Hansler) Lange.
Among her childhood memories was of the earthquake that hit Compton, Calif., in 1933, but also of joyful visits to the opera and to Catalina Island and Long Beach Ocean Park. She was accomplished on the piano, and accompanied her high school choir. She had a strong, assertive style, much to the joy of her family and organizations she accompanied throughout her life.
She was active in the youth programs of her father’s congregation, First Lutheran Church of Compton. Her leadership there led to her appointment as executive secretary for the International Luther League (ILL) during her college years. In that role, she coordinated the ILL’s first three conventions in Ames, Iowa, in 1946; Pullman, Wash., in 1948; and in East Lansing, Mich., in 1950.
She earned an associate of arts degree at Compton Junior College and attended Capital College of Columbus, Ohio.
She married Herman Diers on Dec. 28, 1950, in Compton. The couple moved to Burnaby, British Columbia, where they started Grace Lutheran Church and welcomed three sons.
In 1959 the family moved to Waverly, Iowa, where Herman served Wartburg College, first as pastor and then as faculty. Two more children were born there.
Dorothy’s most demanding and accomplished role in life was as a strong, kind and generous mother. There was always room for more at her 8-foot round table – a Vietnamese immigrant, a foster child, a female college student from Tanzania, a feisty boy from the slums of Chicago, and a Mexican teenager on his own. In a devotional she gave at Holden Village, daughter Judy attributed this generous hospitality to her “round table” theology.
Dorothy organized the family for a two-year stay in California’s Bay Area so that Herman could do advanced studies at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). There she was an assistant to the GTU vice president for development. Upon their return to Wartburg College, Dorothy served as an assistant in the Office of Student Affairs and in the International Students Office.
In addition to three excursions to Mexico and Central America, she and Herman spent four months in eastern and southern Africa, and they returned in 1992 to visit Judy in Namibia. An Asia adventure in 1990 took them to Nepal, Borneo and Hong Kong. She and Judy traveled to New Zealand and Australia.
When Dorothy and Herman retired in 1993, they moved to Tacoma to work in the Hilltop community. Dorothy served as receptionist and as secretary on the board of Associated Ministries, Tacoma’s ecumenical organization, and volunteered at two food banks. They were members of First Lutheran Church until 2012, when they made their last move to Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community and joined St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows.
She is survived by her husband Herman; children Jim (Sarah), Gary (Inana), Brent (Colleen), Paul (Laurie), and Judy (David); five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service and lunch will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at St. Mark’s.
Memorials may be made to Lutheran World Relief, P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD, 21230, or lwr.org; to Associated Ministries, 901 S. 13 th St., Tacoma, WA, 98405; or to Wartburg College, 100 Wartburg Blvd., Waverly, IA, 50677.