Dorothy Eaton Watts, who retired last year following decades of service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church's Southern Asia region, died November 8 following a lengthy illness. She was 72.
Dorothy is survived by her husband, retired Southern Asia regional church President Ron Watts, three children and six grandchildren.
In 2007, the Association of Adventist Women gave Watts its "Woman of the Year" award for Entrepreneurial Church Leadership and featured her story in its newsletter. Excerpts, adapted with permission, follow:
Dorothy Eaton grew up in rural Ohio, raised by a mother who modeled a life of service. Dorothy excelled in school, especially in creative writing. She worked in the family landscape and floral business, and later as a literature evangelist to pay for tuition at an Adventist academy and later at Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University). She later graduated from Andrews University.
Dorothy married Ron Watts five months after they met on a blind date in 1959. Five years later, the couple moved to India, beginning 16 years of missionary service there. Dorothy and Ron adopted three children in the country.
In 1979, Dorothy founded Sunshine Orphanage, which began out of the Watts' home. Today the orphanage cares for 100 children. Dorothy also launched the Adventist Child Care Agency, which directed the education of 5,000 children through the sponsorship of agencies of REACH International.
In 2003, Dorothy helped establish Adventist Child India with the goal of providing scholarships for 10,000 rural Adventist children to attend Adventist boarding schools.
When the Watts returned to the United States in 1981, Dorothy wrote some of the 27 books she authored. In 1997, she became the second director of the Adventist world church's Women's Ministries department, where she outlined curriculum still used by Women's Ministries directors worldwide.
Following her husband's call to serve as regional president for the church in South Asia, Dorothy became an associate secretary for the church there. She established empowerment programs, providing goats, sewing machines and tailoring classes to enhance the lives and independence of local women.
In the early 2000s, Dorothy ran 135 literacy projects, health education and AIDs awareness during the aftermath of two natural disasters in the region: a major earthquake in 2003 and a tsunami a year later. Her literacy projects have been duplicated in 250 locations.
-- The Adventist Woman, a publication of the Association of Adventist Women, contributed to this story