Beloved and passionate equestrian, Dorothea was surrounded by the love and friendship of so many of the riders at Harmony Farms and elsewhere. During her long illness, their care, compassion and support touched us both deeply. An intrepid traveler and multi-linguist, Dorothea was loved by countless friends world wide.
I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Richard Peterson and his staff at the Cancer Care Center at Fairview Riverside, and to Stephanie, Lesley and all the wonderful people at Health Partners Hospice.
And especially to the all of the wonderful people who have helped Dorothea and myself through this terribly difficult time.
Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to the friends Dorothea made at Ledgemere Castina, Victoria Station and Harmony Farm over the years, those whom I affectionately call the “barn ladies”. You know who you are. You have given so selflessly to support Dorothea and me through these terrible months that I cannot possibly find words to adequate to my gratitude.
Dorothea developed an interest in horsemanship early in life. On her way to school in her Berlin Zehlendorf neighborhood, she walked past stables daily. It wasn’t long until she decided to stop by and begin to take riding lessons. She became quite comfortable on and around horses. On a family vacation in Hungary she was introduced to the wild steppe land known as the Puszta, and to the csikos, the Hungarian herdsmen who live there amongst the horses on the open plains. She was smitten by the wild excitement of riding on open plains without a fence to be seen on the horizon, by the girthless saddles of the herdsmen, and by the hearty life outdoors absent any of the comforts of home.
As a 15 year old girl, Dorothea had the courage and the maturity to be able to travel through iron curtain countries to live her passion on the steppes. She developed life long friendships that she maintained through frequent travel back there. She also had good friends in the city of Budapest whom she visited regularly. So taken by life in Hungary was she that she learned to speak Hungarian fluently. She and her father shared this passion, and he also learned to speak Hungarian, which he practiced on regular visits to Budapest.
Equally at home in the rough and tumble world of the steppes and the elegant world of dressage riding, Dorothea continued to practice dressage throughout her life, becoming a highly skilled rider who was admired by many of her fellow riding enthusiasts. Doro share-boarded many horses throughout her life and rode ad hoc for many friends in Chicago and the Twin Cities.
One of the great joys and accomplishments of Dorothea’s life was to buy and train a Trakener (horse) named Hollywood. Through patient years of work, training, devotion and love, she has made Hollywood into a truly spectacular horse who keeps growing better as the years go by.
Dorothea enjoyed many other activities. She was an avid linguist who spoke German, English and Hungarian fluently, and could passably speak French and Spanish. Many native English speakers have told her that she speaks English better than they do!
Music was another passion of Dorothea’s. Her father used to play classical music on the radio and quiz her, first asking her to name the composer, then the piece, and finally the movement! She could do this quite well I know, because we played the same game together at home. But her interests were far ranging, from Beethoven to Abba to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Muddy Waters. When we bought a home in St. Paul, she graciously hosted over 50 home concerts, sharing our home and the cream of local talent with our friends and family.
Dorothea is survived by her dearest childhood friend, Kerstin Blodig, and Kerstin’s partner Ian Melrose, two of the top talents on the Berlin music scene. Doro has followed their careers with interest over the 30 years of life in the USA, frequently returning for shows, and even hosting a show at home when they journeyed stateside.
Dorothea was also a bicycling and hiking enthusiast, always preferring human or horse power to motors. When I told her I was going to ride my bicycle home to Minnesota from my last Army posting in Berlin, she volunteered to come along! I insisted on a training run, so we took trains to Strasbourg on the Rhine, and rode from there down to Basel, Switzerland. She passed my test with flying colors, and so was ready to ride with me. We rode from Berlin to Sweden, through Denmark, then to Hamburg, Germany. A plane took us to Boston, whence we rode to Montreal, through Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Wisconsin and finally, to Knife Lake in Minnesota.
She often commented that that experience was a true torture test for a marriage – “if you make it through that, you’ll make it through anything.” It was no small act of courage for a 24 year old woman to accept a marriage proposal from an American GI and uproot herself from her beloved family to move across the ocean into the unknown. But this is the kind of courage and determination that characterized her life. And nearly 30 years later, we were indeed together until her life ended, all too soon.
Dorothea left us too soon, but she did not leave anything on the table. Life, we would say to each other, is a gift, but a gift of a special kind. Life is a gift that you must reach out and take. That she did.
Dorothea was courageous, compassionate, caring, and ready with a smile or a wry comment to bring a laugh. She supported me through and encouraged me through my studies at Northwestern, through my own modest musical endeavors, and through all the changes, the highs and lows, that come over the course of 32 years together.