Dorothy J. Hippensteel Mohler, 97, devoted sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, caregiver, friend, and servant of the Lord passed away peacefully in her Newville home on Friday afternoon, December 31, 2021.
She was born April 17, 1924 in Plainfield, PA on a small farm on Greason Road to Robert W. Hippensteel and Margaret E. A. Goodhart, along with her twin sister Doris “Dot” West, who passed away on November 28, 2021.
Dorothy was the larger twin and elder by 20 minutes and,according to her twin, never let her forget that she was born first.Dr. Van Camp, the Plainfield physician, was doubtful of the twins’ survival and advised their parents not to bother naming the girls. The infants weighed in at approximately six and five pounds, according to their father who determined their weight on a stilyard retrieved from the barn.
But the twins grew and flourished, with the loving care and attention from their parents and grandparents. According to their mother, from early on the twins developed a secret language to communicate with one another that only they could understand and referred to themselves at “Deet” and “Dot.”
In school, Dorothy and her twin excelled in their studies, and both skipped the 2nd grade at Plainfield Country School. When they graduated from Carlisle High School in 1941, Dorothy was named the class salutatorian. That summer she enrolled in a 10-week summer course in elementary engineering at Dickinson College. She also completed a course in drafting at Penn State.
Dorothy’s scholastic achievement earned her a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, but she became ill and didn’t go.Instead, she opted to accept a position with Masland Carpets in Carlisle, working as a chemist.
When World War II was declared, she admitted, later in life, she considered joining the Navy, like her brother Bobby.
On February 3, 1947, she married the love of her life, Ralph “Huck” Mohler, in Wormleysburg. They raised 3 children, Ann, J. Robert “Butch,” and David, in their Newville home.
A full-time stay-at-home mother, Dorothy was totally committed to the happiness and well-being of their children. Yet she still found time to work her garden, volunteer with the PTA and lend her artistic skills to assist in community projects, such as posters for the opening of the Newville Public Library.
In the 1960’s her hand-crafted Christmas decorations won first prize for best religious home displays several consecutive yearsin a row in the annual community contest run by the Newville Jaycees.
Her cooking and baking skills were as legendary as the family get-togethers held at her parents’ home in Jonestown. Dorothy would arrive bearing tasty baked goods and foods often prepared with fresh ingredients from her own garden.
With the passing of her parents, Dorothy became the “glue” that held the family together, and her Creek Road farm was a treasured gathering place for the family.
In summer months, a visit to her vast, spectacular garden was a must.
Dorothy loved to garden and was proud of her many plants and flowers. She found great solitude working in the dirt. Perhaps it was the rich Cumberland County soil or the nourishing quality of the creek water, but more likely it was because Dorothy, like her mother, had a green thumb. Her garden was blessed with multiple varieties of iris, peonies, lilies, daffodils and many other flowers, some of which were passed down for several generations.
A nurturing grandmother, that any child would envy, she left her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with many warm, precious memories.
When the school year ended, Angie, the first grandchild, would visit her grandparents for the summer. It was a bonding experience for Angie who recalls playing cards, word games, and puzzles with her grandmother. Always an engaged grandparent, Dorothy provided Angie with many life skills. She recalls her grandmother teaching her how to iron, starting her out with her grandfather’s handkerchiefs. She also introduced her to needlepoint, embroidery, and cross stitch, all of which she still enjoys today.
And when the summer came to an end, there were many memorable school shopping excursions.
Family was everything. When her sister “Peg” developed cancer, Dorothy was there for her providing love and strength.And when her sister lost the battle in 2009, Dorothy became a surrogate mom and pillar of support for her niece and nephews.
Dorothy’s nurturing nature extended to her friends as well. For many years she unselfishly assumed the care of an elderly couple, John and Elsie Shenk, until the last one passed in 1985.
Likewise, her commitment to her twin never waned. In later years, she faithfully called her sister in Lebanon County daily, and visited whenever she could, sharing reminiscences from their younger days and, fulfilling what the family believes was a promise to love, support, and care for her “younger” twin until the end.
She had a strong and abiding faith in the Lord and was a modest woman, who downplayed her skills and strength. A fractured hip in 2016 failed to keep her down for long. Within months, she rebounded and learned to walk, for the most part unassisted. When asked how she managed to accomplish so much at her age, she’d laugh and say, “You’re as young as you feel, but today I feel 102.”
Her family and friends marveled at her engaging wit, positive spirit and ability to forge ahead even after considerable personal tragedies. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.
She is survived by her granddaughters, Angela Crouse of Columbia, PA and Heather Unick of Orlando, FL; grandsons, Matthew Mohler of Green Castle, PA, Mark Mohler of Hawaiiand Todd Wisilosky of Bartow, FL; daughters-in-law Sue Mohler of Orlando, FL and Cindy Mohler of Greencastle, PA; several great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren,nieces and nephews.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband and by her children, Ann Daniels, J. Robert Mohler and David Mohler.
A Memorial Service will be held on January 15, 2022, at Diller Mennonite Church, 345 Creek Rd, Newville, PA 17241 with a visitation at 11:30 am, Service at Noon.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Diller Mennonite Church.
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