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Dorothy Eaton Watts, Missionary,
Author, Child Advocate, Dies at 72
Was Associate Secretary of Southern Asia Division, wrote dozens of books
BY VERLA MICHEL KWIRAM and ROY NADEN, with Adventist Review staff
Dorothy Eaton Watts, 72, who retired in 2009 after decades of service in the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists, headquartered in Tamil Nadu, India, died November 8, 2010, following a lengthy illness. She resided in suburban Maryland, United States.
Her husband, Pastor Ron Watts, retired Southern Asia Division president, and their three children, Stephen, Esther, and David, survive, along with six grandchildren.
In 2007, the Association of Adventist Women gave Watts its “Woman of the Year” award for Entrepreneurial Church Leadership. Their newsletter carried a biographical description of her life:
Dorothy Eaton Watts enjoyed an ideal childhood in rural Ohio. While undeniably a mischievous girl, she excelled at school, especially in creative writing. She had the privilege of being raised by a mother who modeled a life of service giving Bible studies, visiting shut-ins, and preaching sermons. Dorothy worked in the family landscape and floral business, and later as a literature evangelist every summer in order to attend an Adventist academy and Columbia Union College. Watts later graduated from Andrews University.
She met Ron Watts on a blind date in 1959 and married him five months later. They were married for 50 years. Five years after marriage, they went to India and spent their first term of 16 years as missionaries. As a child, she had dreamed of being a mother, a missionary, a teacher, and an author. All her dreams came true, although not in the ways she had imagined. Dorothy and Ron adopted three children in India.
\But so many needed care that she founded Sunshine Orphanage in 1979. It began in their home. Today the Orphanage cares for 100 children. Dorothy also founded the Adventist Child Care Agency (ACCA), which directed the education of 5,000 children through the sponsorship of agencies of REACH International.
In 2003 Dorothy helped establish the Southern Asia Division Child Care Office, which administers her newest program, Adventist Child India (ACI), with the goal of providing scholarships for 10,000 rural Adventist children to Adventist boarding schools.
Soon after the Watts family returned to the United States in 1981, Dorothy wrote some of the 27 books she has authored, several of them focused on the needs of women. She has been a frequent speaker at women’s retreats and, in 1997, became the second Women’s Ministries Director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In this position, she outlined a four-year curriculum for Women’s Ministries leaders still used around the world.
Being Women’s Ministries Director for the GC is a responsibility she enjoyed more than anything else she had done. But she had to relinquish that post when Ron received the call to become the President of the Southern Asia Division in India.
There she became an Associate Secretary of the Division, something she described as the “most difficult job” she has undertaken. In the past decade, while parts of India have achieved considerable prosperity, the gap between rich and poor has widened.
The poor are desperately poor, barely able to sustain themselves. So Dorothy set up empowerment programs providing goats, sewing machines, tailoring classes, and wet grinders, all intended to enhance the lives and independence of women. She has also created programs for deaf women.
Dorothy became deeply involved after the major earthquake that displaced tens of thousands in 2003 and the horrors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that disrupted countless lives. Aware that education is the path to a better life for women, Dorothy ran 135 literacy projects, plus health education and AIDS awareness. These literacy projects have now been duplicated in 250 locations.
In retirement, the Dorothy and Ron Watts attended the Southern Asia Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, where a viewing and funeral service for Dorothy Watts were to be held.
-- adapted, with permission, from The Adventist Woman, a publication of the Association of Adventist Women.