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96 years of service and fulfillment

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Stopping for a picnic lunch on a hike in the San Juans are Bob Loyer, Dennis Brown and Dorothy Loyer.

Among the many things that bring fulfillment to Dorothy Loyer's life is playing the organ.

Dorothy was 17 when the church organist died and the pastor turned to Dorothy to take her place. Dorothy was a pianist, not an organist, but with her piano teacher's guidance, Dorothy became the church organist.

Dorothy graduated from Oneonta State Teachers College in Otego, N.Y., in 1941. A young pastor from Princeton Seminary, Bob Loyer, came to Oneonta Presbyterian as pastor. Bob liked to listen to Dorothy rehearse on the organ and would walk her home afterward.

Bob and Dorothy were married Aug. 1, 1943.

Bob pastored Oneonta Presbyterian for five years before being called as pastor of Auburn Presbyterian Church in Auburn, N.Y. He served there seven years.

Dorothy says, "We started our family during this time. Three of our sons -- Bruce, Alan and Roger -- were born while we were in Auburn."

Bob next served as pastor for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rochester, N.Y. They were there for 11 years.

George, their fourth son, was born while they were in Rochester.

"Bob was a true pastor. He would ask me to stand with him at the end of worship service to greet members of the congregation. He remembered all their names and where they lived. He was there for his congregation all the time," Dorothy said.

She recalls the years their sons were growing up as exciting and interesting.

"They were good boys and we had no problems. They were all musical. Bruce played the oboe and Alan the French horn. George sang in the school choir and Roger sang in the school chorus.

"The only time they complained was when they shoveled the snow and the city snowplow came along and pushed the snow back in the driveway."

Leadership in the Presbyterian denomination is organized nationally as General Assembly; at the state level as synod; and locally as presbytery, involving several local congregations. The leader of a presbytery is called executive presbyter.

After being pastor at Westminster Presbyterian, Bob was appointed executive presbyter of the Geneva/Elmira presbyteries in New York state. Later he was appointed executive presbyter of Cayuga-Syracuse and Utica presbyteries.

"During our final 17 years in New York state we had a camp on Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains where we spent our vacations," Dorothy said.

Bob and Roger were Adirondack 46ers, having climbed all the peaks over 4,000 feet from sea level in the Adirondacks. They also had come west to climb the Grand Tetons.

"In 1976 Bob retired and announced, 'We are going to Colorado so I can climb all those mountains!' " Dorothy said.

Dorothy and Bob had not been at their son Alan's home in Denver long before the synod director came to see them and convinced Dorothy to be the financial secretary for the Synod of the Rocky Mountains located in Denver.

Shortly thereafter Bob received a call asking him to consider being interim pastor at the Eckert Presbyterian Church and the Cedaredge Methodist Church. Worship services were held at the Methodist church at 9:30 a.m. and the Presbyterian church at 11 a.m.

Bob served for about a year as interim pastor for the two churches.

He then served as interim pastor for two years at Christ's Presbyterian Church in Telluride and later returned for a second one-year stint as interim pastor at Eckert Presbyterian. During Bob's pastoring years Dorothy served in several leadership positions on Presbyterian committees.

While they were in Auburn, N.Y., Dorothy was asked by General Assembly to organize Presbyterian Women on a national level. In churches throughout the country women carried out small, local mission projects.

"We met in Philadelphia, the national Presbyterian office then. I represented the northeast region of the country -- all of New England, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Women from many presbyteries, including Puerto Rico, came to Philadelphia, representing their regions," Dorothy said.

"We created a plan for Presbyterian Women to be a national organization, active in all churches, holding Bible study and supporting mission projects. General Assembly approved our plan.

"I visited presbyteries throughout the country to work with them in getting organized. We set up annual retreats for women to provide spiritual growth.

"We concentrated on missions and persuaded presbyteries to include a women's voice in deliberations and decisions," she said.

After Bob retired, Dorothy became active in Presbyterian missions.

"With 23 other women from across the U.S., I represented Presbyterian Women in a month-long mission trip to China. It was a very rewarding experience," Dorothy said.

"China had just opened up again. We visited all the states of China except the one bordering the Koreas. We visited in all the churches. It was interesting to hear people share their experiences.

"We went to orphanages. At that time China's families didn't keep their girl children. We saw so many little girls, four or five to a crib."

Dorothy recalled, "A young man, our national guard, went with us everywhere. He sat with me and asked hundreds of questions. I asked him, 'Is there anything I can do for you?' He asked if I could send him a book of science and a book of U.S. history.

"When I returned home I was given a science book and a U.S. history book from Cedaredge High School. I sent them to him. He wrote that he got the history book but not the science book.

"After Tiananmen Square I never heard from him again," she said.

Dorothy served on the National Committee for the Self Developments of People. Requests for funding for projects to assist people in self development projects are presented to the General Assembly. Committee members visit the sites where funding has been requested, evaluate the request, needs and costs for the projects.

Presbytery in Puerto Rico requested funding to pave a two-mile dirt road connecting to the main highway. It rains a lot in Puerto Rico. There was a banana plantation at the top of a steep hill but the bananas could not reach market because the big trucks that transported them couldn't navigate the slippery dirt road. Paving the road was funded.

Dorothy also evaluated a proposal from a small town in Texas. The town was 40 miles from the nearest fire station. The request was to convert a garage into a fire station for volunteer firefighters. The request also included converting the basement of the church for a preschool. School children had to walk over a mile to meet the school bus; preschool-aged children could not make that walk.

Those are just two examples of the projects that were funded.

Dorothy also served as moderator of Presbytery of Western Colorado, and was a DCMH Volunteer for 31 years.

Dorothy's husband Bob died in 2002 at age 88. And he climbed all those mountains he came to Colorado to climb.

"Today I am blessed with four sons, four daughters-in-law, six grandsons, four granddaughters, three great-grandsons and three great-granddaughters," Dorothy says with pride.

Bruce and his family live in Newton, N.C., Alan and family in Aurora, Roger and family in Cape Cod, and George and family in Cedaredge.

"I am slowing down but I still love to do all the things I'm able to do for my church and church family," she says.

"I loved traveling and miss it a lot as I can't do it any longer. For recreation I enjoy reading mysteries and playing bridge, mah-jong and dominoes.

"I feel that God has been good to me by putting me in Eckert. I am not a worrier. I leave things to God," she avowed.

Photo submitted Dorothy Loyer in discussions of a Self Development of People project in Puerto Rico.
Photo submitted In October 2014 friends and family gathered to celebrate Dorothy Loyer’s 95th birthday. She is pictured here with her four sons, left to right, Roger, Alan, George and Bruce.
Photo submitted An earlier Loyer family photo shows, left to right, Bob, Bruce, Roger, Alan, George and Dorothy.
Photo submitted Dorothy Loyer loved playing the organ at church and for weddings and funerals.
Photo submitted Dorothy Loyer with Delta County Memorial Hospital CEO Jason Cleckler. Dorothy volunteered for 31 years in the hospital emergency room.
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