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Grove, Dorothy (1926-2010)

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Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 2010 Dec 13 p. 7

Birth date: 1926

text of obituary:

Widow of missionary martyred 48 years ago in Somalia dies

By Jewel Showalter

Eastern Mennonite missions

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Dorothy Grove, a mission worker whose husband was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, by a radical Muslim cleric in 1962, died Nov. 6. She was 84.

Before going to Somalia with Eastern Mennonite Missions in 1960, Grove and her husband, Merlin, sold their Ontario farm business.

Grove dorothy 2010.jpg
"Merlin felt a call to go to Somalia," Grove wrote in an article for Missionary Messenger in 2000. "We were assured that god had called us to this work."

In Somalia, the Groves immediately began service at the Mennonite mission's boarding school for boys in Mahaddei. Merlin worked as a teacher and administrator, while Dorothy home-schooled their three young children, helped mother boys in the boarding school and made friends in the nearby village.

The next year they moved to Mogadishu, where Merlin became director of the Mennonite mission.

On July 16, 1962, while Merlin was registering students for English classes in the capital city, an Islamic mullah fatally stabbed him.

Fellow missionary Harold Stauffer was also in the room registering students at the time of the attack, and the murderer turned to pursue him after felling Merlin.

Dorothy heard the commotion and came to investigate. Her husband's killer turned from pursuing Stauffer and stabbed Dorothy in the abdomen.

Bystanders intervened, and as the murderer fled the mission team ministered to Dorothy's wounds and took her to the hospital.

Merlin Grove was buried the next day in a small Protestant corner of a Roman Catholic cemetery. The graveyard already held the tiny bodies of two Mennonite missionary children.

After several months of recuperation, Dorothy grove and her children returned to Canada.

"I was now a single parent with injuries and pain, unsure of my future health," Grove wrote in the Missionary Messenger article. "The verse, 'God is my refuge and strength in time of trouble,' was my comfort."

Grove worked as a nurse, but after sending her youngest child to university in 1967, she joined an EMM Voluntary Service unit in Corning, N.Y., where she served for six years.

Return to Somalia

In 1984, 22 years after Merlin's death, Grove and her young adult children returned to Somalia and visited Merlin's grave in Mogadishu. The children also reconnected with several former Somali playmates, now young men.

Grove stayed for six months, volunteering at an orphanage.

"As I met Somali friends and heard their appreciation for Merlin, and received a royal welcome by the believers' group, my questions were answered," she wrote in the August 2000 Missionary Messenger. "The Somalis told me now they truly believed in reconciliation because I came back to Somalia with peace. Their love and acceptance was almost more than I could bear."

In 1986 Grove returned again to East Africa, this time to Kenya, where she served a three-month stint as hostess at the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi.

Mary Gehman, a coworker of the Groves, said Dorothy's passion for and devotion to the Somali people was marked. Her strength, love and perseverance were a powerful testimony.

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