Born to Edward and Sarah Kipp on July 15, 1915, Dorothea Sarah was the second of five children: older brother Alfred and younger siblings Deloris, Adrain and Evelyn. Dorothea grew up on a virtually self-sufficient farm in western Ohio, outside the little German community of New Knoxville. Although the family farm required demanding physical labor, it was untouched by the vicissitudes of the economy including the crash of 1929. Until Dorothea went to school in a brick, one-room school, she and her family spoke only German. The Kipp family's social life revolved around their religious life at the stately and vibrant Evangelical and Reformed Church in the center of the village. It was at church that Dorothea met the boy who would one day become her husband, Victor Paul Wierwille.
After graduating from high school, Dorothea's family needed her assistance on the farm and in the care of her younger siblings. But a year later her grandfather Kipp and her father helped her realize her dream of going to nurses training at Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. While training to become a registered nurse, Dorothea and Victor corresponded and saw each other on holidays when both were back in New Knoxville. The romance floured. So when Dorothea was finishing nurses training in the summer of 1937, Victor went to Cincinnati and they eloped across the Ohio River to Owensboro, Kentucky, on July 2.
The newly-weds moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where Dorothea worked in the local hospital while Victor finished his undergraduate degree and his bachelor of divinity degree at Mission House Seminary. While Victor pursued his Master of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and while Dorothea was again working in the local hospital there, their first child, Donald Ernst was born in 1940. Moving in 1941 to their first pastorate in Payne, Ohio, and continuing through their years in the Evangelical and Reformed denomination in Van Wert, Ohio, Dorothea was the model minister's wife, always caring for the needs of the congregations and the Chimes Hour Youth Caravan, the radio outreach, by encouraging those in distress, applying her nursing skills and using her musical talent in directing the church choirs for a period of time. She did all this while rearing three children, Karen Ruth and Mary Ellen having come along, joining big brother Don.
Dorothea and Victor had hoped to have five children. But after having the first three, Dorothea didn't become pregnant again until they were deep into making arrangements for the family to do a nine-month mission trip to England and India in 1955-56. So the difficult decision was made to go ahead with the trip and leave their newborn, John Paul, with Dorothea's sister Deloris and her family. While abroad, Dorothea and Victor and heir three older children ministered to thousands the power of God and His resurrected son.
Returning to Van Wert, Ohio, after the mission trip, Victor's ministry was growing in a new direction, so the two of them decided to take a step of faith and branch out into their full-time interdenominational ministry which they had previously named "The Way," named for those in the Book of Acts who were followers of Jesus Christ.
While renting a large, private home in Van Wert, the fifth and final child was born, Sara Kathryn. During this time of transition and with the crucial believing and financial support of Victor's older brother Harry, Dorothea began planning the remodeling of the Wierwille family homestead, which had been inherited by this time, to be used for the headquarters of The Way. Always an accomplished cook, baker, and seamstress, Dorothea now undertook the challenge of architect and contractor. In whatever capacity a need presented itself for the ministry, Dorothea willingly and capably committed herself. She was always committed to supporting the prayers and calling of her husband and The Way Ministry.
As the ministry grew and branched out from New Knoxville, Dorothea's roles continued to evolve. She did meal planning, landscape, architectural and interior design, guest housing, proofreading, all at the same time that she entertained in her home and cared for those who were ill and needed a peaceful and positive place to recuperate. Another mission she devoted herself to was writing personal notes of care and encouragement to thousands of people over the years. The final capstone to her husband's memory was her writing Victor's biography from birth to 1961, Born Again to Serve.
Dorothea's innermost desire, from childhood and through her entire life, was to work heartily unto the Lord. She found her personal fulfillment in that. Her graciousness, even temperament, her physical endurance, her positive attitude, her other-person-mindedness, and her total confidence in God's Word and His goodness and power made her the outstanding and exceptional woman that she was. Dorothea has now finished her course, she kept the faith and she awaits the return of our savior, Jesus Christ, who gave us our Hope of a great and glorious return.