A. Dorothy Benes ’57 Weiss
Mrs. Dorothy Weiss, age 87, of Orange City, went to be with Jesus on Thursday, October 20, 2022, at the Prairie Ridge Care Center in Orange City.
A visitation with the family present will be held on Sunday, October 23, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm, at the Oolman Funeral Home in Orange City. A prayer service will take place on Monday, October 24, at 9:00am, at the funeral home, followed by interment at the West Lawn Cemetery in Orange City. There will be a memorial service on Monday, at 10:00am, at the Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City with the Rev. Dr. Brian Keepers officiating.
Alberta Dorothy was the third child to Louis and Alberta (Kingma) Benes. She was born on June 23, 1935, in Albany, New York, where her father was pastor of the Fifth Reformed Church, but she remembers growing up in Michigan, where her father moved to be pastor of the Fifth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, then a stint in California and finally back to Michigan.
Dorothy met Raymond Weiss during the year her father pastored Hope Church in Los Angeles, as the families became friends. When she was attending Hope College, she told Ray (who was studying at Western Seminary) that she was going to marry a minister, and three years later, she did. Dorothy completed her degree in Elementary Education as Raymond worked for the Reformed Church in America youth ministry and then they both attended the University of Michigan to learn linguistics and Arabic.
Ray and Dorothy attended missionary training to prepare to go to the Middle East. They left for Iraq in 1957, by ship, accompanied by their 2-month-old daughter, Catherine. Dorothy continued to care for her daughter while learning to speak Arabic more fluently and immersing in a new way of life. A revolution at that time significantly impacted their lives, but they saw the faithfulness of God who kept them safe. Dorothy became seriously ill with a viral encephalitis which moved them to a different city at a critical time. After all foreigners were asked to leave Iraq, Dorothy joined Ray in ministering in Ann Arbor, until they could go to Lebanon, with their now family of four, with the addition of their daughter Barbara, to teach at Beirut University for Women. Then they moved to Bahrain, where Dorothy used her teaching skills at the elementary level and to new missionaries learning Arabic. She became co-principal of the Arabic speaking elementary school and was instrumental in setting up their library.
Dorothy had the gift of hospitality and enjoyed visiting and hosting many friends in Bahrain as well as those who traveled through Bahrain. She loved to sing and play the piano for church services. She shared with her girls her love for Jesus, her love and commitment to her husband, her caring for others, and her enjoyment of reading. She was overjoyed to welcome another child, a son David, and to watch God’s faithfulness in their lives again! The family moved to Orange City so Ray could work at Northwestern College.
Dorothy pursued studies in library science, which quickly became useful as she accepted a job as the librarian of the Orange City Public Library. A part-time job became full-time, the library moved from the basement of the town hall to a beautiful free-standing building, the system moved from paper to electronic, and many more services were added during her tenure as librarian. Dorothy also became the mother of her fourth child, Timothy, a busy and welcome addition to the family.
In 1975, Dorothy became ill with multiple sclerosis, and she lived with the progressive disease from then on. She slowly lost balance, hearing, stability on her feet, muscle strength, coordination, and communication. But she was so grateful for God’s staying of her disease and she continued to work at the library until she retired. She was a hostess for students, friends, and missionaries. She encouraged and loved her husband and her family, remembering special events, hosting at holidays, and even drop-in meals (“just add some more water to the soup”). She and Ray read God’s Word individually and as a family, memorizing Scripture along with the children, worshipping regularly at Trinity Reformed Church, and in small groups. They prayed consistently for their children and families, for the church family and friends, and for God’s work in the world. They joined a ministry to prisoners and prayed for each one of their correspondents’ names regularly.
Dorothy moved to the Prairie Ridge Care Center in Orange City with her husband in 2015. She missed him acutely after he went to heaven in 2018. These last few years have been difficult as Dorothy’s MS progressed to increasing spasticity and decreased ability to communicate and interact. Thankfully, technology such as FaceTime, allowed her family to maintain communication with her, and pictures posted on her Portal gave her special joy to see both memories and happenings. Even as Dorothy stopped eating, she would nod if asked if it was ok to pray together. And her last breath was taken during prayer!
Survivors include a daughter and her husband, Catherine J.W. and Mark R. Bell, of West Lafayette, Indiana; a son and his wife, David R. and Cari Weiss, of Hutto, Texas; daughter-in-law, Heather Weiss; eight grandchildren, Maria (Ian Arnold) Bell, David Bell, Craig Romkema, Erica Romkema, Elena (John Ballam) Romkema, Christopher (Kim) Romkema, Macy Weiss, and Owen Weiss; and five great-grandchildren, Brielle, Elise, and Isaiah Ballam; and Dawson and Beckett Romkema.
In addition to her parents, Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond; her daughter and her husband, Barbara and James Romkema; her son, Timothy Weiss; and her siblings, Ruth Roundhouse, Louis Benes, Jr., and Paul Benes.