Date of Birth: February 26, 1930
Date of Death: January 05, 2023
Dorothy Fern (West) Miner A Remarkable Life Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! –Psalm 105:1-2 Dorothy Fern Miner went to live with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 92 years of age. She was predeceased by her husband Eldon Miner and her oldest daughter Elda Byers. Dorothy is survived by five of her children—Carol West, Janice Klaiss, David Miner, Marjory Belcher, and Lois Jones; and twelve grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Dorothy was born on February 26, 1930 in Cedar Vale, Kansas, the first daughter of Doris Pauline (Pack) West and (Claude) Ray West. They lived in Cedar Vale until she was eight years old. This was during the Great Depression and her father could not find enough work in Kansas to support his family. Before marrying, Ray worked in Arizona and hoped his job prospects would be better there. His friend, Mr. Hanger, offered to take the family to Arizona in his canvas covered truck. Ray and Doris packed everything they could, along with their five children, into the back of the truck and they headed to Arizona. In Phoenix, the family initially made their home in a tent along a canal bank. Dorothy and her brother Don finished that school year before the family moved their tent north to the Glendale area. Most daily activities took place under a large shade tree. Ray was still unable to find steady work in Arizona. He often supported the family by selling bread he baked outside in two ovens he managed to acquire, which Dorothy and her siblings helped deliver after school. Finally, after almost two years, the family obtained housing in Glendale. Dorothy graduated from Glendale High School where she was in the honor society. Following graduation, Dorothy married Eldon Miner, whom she knew from the youth group at their little church, Glendale Baptist Tabernacle. After a small wedding, they moved to California to attend Western Baptist Bible College and start their family. Following Bible College, Dorothy and Eldon moved their growing family to Flagstaff to help in an outreach program for Hopi workers at the Army’s Navajo Ordnance Depot where Eldon found employment. There, in 1955, they met a Hopi woman who was married to a Navajo man. The couple invited Eldon to go with them to Shonto on the Navajo reservation. Thus began their longtime friendship with Jack and June Smith and with the Navajo people in the Shonto area. It wasn’t until 1962, after job transfers to Illinois and Texas, that the Miners moved to the Navajo Indian Reservation to begin a full-time ministry. The seven years the family lived on the Navajo Reservation were tough in many ways, especially in terms of physical comforts. The family, which had grown to include six children, lived frugally on rarely more than $200 a month. Since life in Shonto began in a small trailer with no electricity or running water, the three older girls went to board at Navajo Methodist Mission School in New Mexico. Winter temperatures in Shonto were as low as 20° below zero! Young David began first grade as the only “white boy” to ride the bus 1-1/2 hour each way to and from Kayenta. Eventually, the three older girls and Marjory were able to join the bus commute. An old CCC barracks house was moved to Shonto and the Miners converted it into a home. Dorothy and the family grew to love the beauty of Navajo Land. In terms of love and fellowship those were blessed years and friends from Shonto remained life-long friends. During a return trip to Shonto several years ago a group of Navajo friends talked among themselves, then turned to the Miners and told them they had been assigned to Navajo clans. Dorothy and Eldon were delighted. “It was like being adopted,” they said. “Much of our hearts remain there.” An invitation from United Indian Missions eventually led the Miners to heed a call to Mexico. In 1970, after a year of Spanish studies, the Miners were invited to serve the ethnic Tarascan people of Michoacán. After returning to the U.S. to visit churches and friends and to raise support, the Miners with the three youngest children moved to Michoacán. In many ways, these were again tough years, particularly in adjusting to a new culture. The Miner’s began learning the Trarascan language and conducted services and Bible studies in private homes. Tarascan friends encouraged the Miners to take the gospel to other Tarascan towns. For the eight years in Michoacán, Dorothy home schooled her youngest children. In the early 1970s territorial and religious conflict among local authorities often resulted in hostility and conflict. It was particularly difficult for the Miner’s teen-age son, to adjust to the culture, so he moved back to Arizona to live with family. For the Miners, these too were blessed years. The people loved the Miners and the Miners loved the people. More lifelong friendships were made. In the late 1970s; however, the Miner children were so strongly impacted by the environment the Miners moved back to Arizona for a time. The Miners worked in a Spanish ministry in Arizona and conducted Gospel outreach to farm workers and other local Hispanic people. The Miner’s youngest daughter Lois, was able to attend and finish school there. During that time, the Miners also traveled to Northern Mexico where they became acquainted with Mayo congregations. The Miners were soon led to move to the Mayo area of Mexico, where there was a need to prepare ministers and Christian workers to serve in their native cultural environment. Too often those who studied in Bible training institutions in the cities did not return to minister to their own people. This situation led the Miners to write lessons and establish the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) studies to equip people for ministry in their own area. Some graduates are now pastors and missionaries. The people of the Mayo area also captured a part of the Miners’ hearts. Many of the young people there called them grandma and grandpa. After eleven years of living in the high heat and humidity of coastal southern Sonora, Eldon became ill so the couple moved back to Arizona. They eventually settled in Florence, where they both worked in ministry at the State Prison and Eldon was a Chaplin. Then, in 2017, Dorothy and Eldon moved to Glencroft, a facility for the elderly in Glendale, Arizona, and again joined the little church where they first met. Throughout her life, Dorothy loved singing. In high school Dorothy sang in church, in choirs, and in school productions such as operettas. She sometimes performed as a soloist and often sang duets with her sister, Carol, and later in trios that included her sister, Betty. The sisters were known for their gorgeous harmonies. Dorothy’s children remember how her lovely soprano voice stood out above the others when singing hymns in church. Music was important to her. Dorothy made sure all her children received musical training. She allowed them to decide what instrument to play and provided them with music lessons, when available, no matter the family’s finances. Even during her last years, as she suffered from dementia and could not converse, Dorothy sang along with recorded hymns and with her children when they visited. Dorothy had three priorities upon which she focused her life. First, was her unshakable faith in her Lord and Savior. Dorothy demonstrated this faith in the ministry she shared with her husband, by the Bible lessons she taught to women and children, and through her singing. Second, Dorothy loved her family unconditionally. No matter what happened or how far someone fell, Dorothy was certain that with unfailing intercessory prayer, they would return to Christ and to being happy and productive. Finally, Dorothy made music a priority. Her beautiful singing demonstrated her joy of life and her faith, and was an integral part of her Christian ministry. In all, Dorothy’s life of ministry with her husband extended over a period of almost 70 years, a remarkable span of time. Throughout her life Dorothy remained fully engaged with her faith, her many churches, her friends and family, and her music. It can be said with certainty that Dorothy lived a remarkable life and enriched the lives of all who knew her.
A service to Celebrate Dorothy Miner's Life will be on January 26, 2023, at 10:00 AM, Faith Baptist Church, 7233 N. 75th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85303