Dorothea Kieselhorst May 3, 1964 - May 10, 2018

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.

Visitation 4-8PM Monday, May 14, 2018 at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, 651-228-1006. Burial will be private at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.


  1. REPLY
    Art and Robin Wiegele says

    We are so sorry to hear that such a wonderful person as Dorothea had to leave us but hope that the way she touched so many made many people better because of it. Wish we could be there for you, hope to see you soon John.

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    Glenn Olson says

    So very sorry to here! You and family are both in our prayers. See you soon.

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    Jesse Schaaf says

    John, I am so sorry for your loss. My family will be sending special prayers this week for you and your family. I was happy to hear your wife was surrounded by love ones when she peacefully passed. If there is anything I can do for you, anything at all please do not hesitate to ask. Looking forward to seeing you again John but remember to take time for your self first!

  4. REPLY
    Jessie Montano says

    I was fortunate to be able to call Dorothea a good and close friend. We met through the love of horses but our friendship went beyond horses. I will miss her terribly but she will forever be in my heart. I hope St. Peter had a horse all tacked up and ready for her because now she can fly with the wind in her hair. Rest In Peace my beloved friend.

  5. REPLY
    Gabriel Hilmar says

    A great noble soul has left us.

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    Ben Weiss says

    I am so sorry, John! She was an amazing human being.

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    Amy Kurowski says

    So sorry to hear this very sad news. My thoughts are with you John and the family. Gone too soon.

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    LuAnn Jarosch Wells says

    John, you know that you are a part of my second family, Dorothea was an incredible addition to that family. I am so sorry for your loss. I imagine her riding horses on the clouds.

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    David Smith says

    John, I am so sorry to hear about Dorothea. She was a very warm, welcoming person. I’ll always remember the fun we all had when we were neighbors in Evanston.

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    Betsy Clark says

    Dorothea was a very special person. Dorothea and I became friends through our mutual love of horses but our friendship grew because of John and my husband Brent’s passion of music. I will always remember you, Dorothea. I am honored to have been your friend. Rest In Peace my dear sister and May you always have a four legged friend at your side, big or small.

  11. REPLY
    Dawn Johnson says

    John, I am so very sorry to hear of Doro’s passing. She was a passionate and vibrant woman, I loved hearing about her adventures and her passion for horses, especially Hollywood, at work. My condolences to you and your families.

  12. REPLY
    Marie Wiegele says

    May peace be with you both, Love and prayers always.

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    Brent Clark says

    Dorothea was an incredibly positive person who loved life to the fullest. She was a wonderful friend to many and will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her. John, I know this is a difficult time, but let your memories of your beautiful wife sustain you, and don’t forget the music.

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    Sharon Isler says

    I was lucky to have known such a brave and wonderful person. She will be missed.

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    Nyagatare Valens says

    I always enjoyed talking and sharing our lives outside USA with Dorothea. She was very kind and great person.

  16. REPLY
    Deb Rose says

    I was fortunate to sit just a few aisles away from Dorothea at MDE. I truly enjoyed getting to know her and especially loved her wry sense of humor. I am saddened to have lost a growing friendship with such fascinating person. John – many blessings and sympathies to you and your family

  17. REPLY
    Ted Johnson says

    My sincere condolences to you and your family. Your wife was a truly amazing woman – who really embraced life and all of its experiences. God Bless!

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    John Ruhland says

    Dorothea was a wonderful friend and confidant in the little time I worked with her. I truly enjoyed her sense of humor and her smile. She will be missed.

  19. REPLY
    Laurie Cylkowski says

    John, I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful wife. Peace and love to you and may Dorothea rest in peace.

  20. REPLY
    Mark Mershon says

    John and Family, I am still in shock! Love the times we all had together in Evanston and our St Paul visits. Dorothea was funny and patient as hell putting up with our insanity! I remember her working at that little shop and her horses! And how the bachelor guys Dave and Kevin were often over for tea and breakfast. Also loved how she stood her ground with John! Ha, she was great! Loved her. She will be surely missed, but I celebrate her life and a little bit of her spirit will always be in my heart!!!

  21. REPLY
    Kumar Amit says

    John, I am so sorry for your loss. Ritu and I will keep you in our prayers. May her soul rest in peace.

  22. REPLY
    Raymond Yates says

    My heart and all of my love go out to you, John. And to Dorothea as well. She, and you, were both huge positive forces in my life, and my gratitude is strong and unending. Love and more love to you both and your families.

  23. REPLY
    Karen Erwin Bulena says

    John and family, I am truly sorry to hear of Dorothea’s passing. You are all in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time. God has a very special angel by his side. She can now ride again swiftly with the wind.

  24. REPLY
    Tony vonArx says

    Sorry to hear about your great loss, John.

  25. REPLY
    Patricia Penuela says

    My deepest sympathy.

  26. REPLY
    SO says

    My condolences to the family and friends of Dorothea. May God comfort you at this difficult time. Psalms 147:3

  27. REPLY
    Jack (and Marci) Vinson says

    John, we were so sad to hear this news via our Evanston friends. You and Doro were always a sure source of great conversations and entertainment at all of our houses and apartments. Peace and blessings from afar.

  28. REPLY
    Dennis Roxas says

    I’m sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  29. REPLY
    Rannveig Arnar Hommema says

    John, I recall our chats about your wife Doro when we worked together, all about your travels and her love of horses. What a fantastic life you have both led! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  30. REPLY
    Ana De Leon says

    My condolences on your loss. I too lost my mother 3 years ago to cancer. I feel your loss.
    From your Prime family, in Omaha Nebraska

  31. REPLY
    Carole Wohlk says

    John, I am truly touched by the wonderfully full life Dorothea had and that you shared with her. So many beautiful memories. From reading your beautifully written story and enjoying the photo montage it stands out to me that Dorothea had true passion and bravery for what was important to her. An inspiration even to those of us who did know her personally. My deepest sympathy to you John.

  32. REPLY
    Edwin Hong says

    John, please accept my condolences and sympathy during this sad and challenging period of your life. Take care, Edwin.

  33. REPLY
    Michael Goshey says

    John: my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your wife and decades long companion and friend. Our paths having never crossed, I was deeply impressed by the caring, engaged soul I saw reflected in the obituary, comments and photos. Clearly Dorothea left a big void in the lives of those who knew her. In honoring her life and legacy, you’ve already helped repair part of that gap, and time will continue to work its incremental healing, upheld by the support of friends and family. I’ve missed seeing you around the office since we moved out of state, but knowing the thoughtful and kind husband she chose to be with, its not hard to imagine the kind of wonderful human being Dorothea certainly was.

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