羅 樂 道 牧 師 （Rev. Otto Dirks） 訃 音
訃音 Otto Dirks ( 羅樂道), Born March 27, 1934 , Died Sept. 23, 2019
Otto Dirks, aged 85, of Winnipeg, MB., formerly of St. Catherine’s, ON., passed away on Monday, September 23, 2019, at Bethania Personal Care Home, Winnipeg, MB.
Otto Dirks was born in the Ukraine on March 27, 1934. His parents were Hermann and Maria (Dueck) Dirks. When Otto was 4 years old, his father was arrested by the communist police and the family never saw him again. After this his mother was forced to work hard on the commune. Thankfully Otto and his younger brother, Waldemar, had their father’s older sister, Maria (Tante Mariechen), to look after them.
In 1944, the family fled Russia with the retreating German army. The next four years were filled with fear as the Russian army threatened to recapture them and take them back to Russia.
They immigrated to Canada in 1948 and settled in the New Hamburg area in Ontario. At first Otto worked in a factory for a year to help pay for their debt.
Otto felt a call to mission work and so attended United Mennonite Educational Institute (UMEI). He continued his studies at Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and then at Bethel Bible College in Newton, Kansas.
Needing to build up his finances, he decided to teach high school for two years before continuing his studies at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana.
Here he met and married Elaine Ross(羅 愛 蓮), a nurse. Together they ventured into a life of ministry. At first they received a call to pastor a church in Lima, Ohio, where their son, Randall, was born. After six years in Lima, they went as missionaries to Taiwan （台灣）, where their son, Steven, was born. When they realized that Steven had Down’s Syndrome, they decided to adopt a little girl, Paula, only to find that she was both mentally and physically challenged.
After five years in Taichung（台中 ）, Taiwan, the family returned to North America in order to visit with family, preach and share all over the country and take some courses in special education.
Returning to Taiwan, they were now sent to Hualien（花蓮 ） on the east side of the island, where they planted the Fuan Mennonite Church and started the New Dawn Developmental Centre for handicapped children.
After five years in Hualien, they returned to Canada only to find that Elaine had cancer and died in 1983. During Elaine’s illness, Otto was asked to be pastor of the St. Catharines United Mennonite Church at first for 2 years, then the Niagara United Mennotite Church for 16 years and then, after retiring, he was invited back to the St. Catharines Church on a part time basis for another 7 years.
In 1986 Otto married Tina Janzen, who was his faithful companion 13 ½ years when she also died of cancer. Two years later, in 2002, Otto married Doris Rempel and again the couple enjoyed many years of ministry together.
In 2012 Otto’s daughter, Paula, died and the following year the family moved to Winnipeg, to be close to children. As Otto’s mental and physical health declined, he was admitted to the Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home in July, 2018, where he died on September 23, 2019.
He leaves to mourn: his wife, Doris, his sons Randall (Agatha) and Steven; his step-children, Allan (Stephanie) Rempel, Angela (Bret) RempelEwert, and Stephen (Heidi) Nighswander-Rempel; his grandchildren Paul, Maria, Timothy, Elisabeth, August, Katie, Angel, Cailey, Benjamin, Nicholas and Grayson; his brother, Waldemar (Gloria) Dirks and many more relatives and friends.