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Memories & Candles

“Sorry for your loss. I have very fond memories of the Devrnja and Siljegovic families. Living a few doors down and always welcome in their home...Read More »
1 of 8 | Posted by: Victoria Campagna

“Zora, Condolences on the loss of your Mother. I will miss seeing you when visiting my Mother, Inez Ward, at Bickford. Lucinda Olson ”
2 of 8 | Posted by: Lucinda Ward Olson - Geneva, IL

“So sorry to hear of your Mom...many times while doing her hair, she used to tell me the stories of her past.,,Incredible as they sounded, I wish and...Read More »
3 of 8 | Posted by: donna (aures) rainville - NY

“To each of my wonderful friends of our beloved Dorothy. My sympathy to all of you. I've loved each of you as if you were my family. Reading the...Read More »
4 of 8 | Posted by: Connie Caruso - Orchard Park, NY

“Dear Zora and family,We just learned of your mother's passing. What an eloquent memory of her appeared in today's Tribune. Diane and I will clip this...Read More »
5 of 8 | Posted by: Michael Bugeja - Ames, IA

“The obituary in the Tribune is a wonderful tribute to a woman who was obviously courageous, determined, and loving. My condolences. ”
6 of 8 | Posted by: Helen Ewald - Ames, IA

“Nada, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom, We havent talked in years please send me an email. Nancy ”
7 of 8 | Posted by: Nancy Vetter - Tonawanda, NY

“Dear Zora, your mother must have been an amazing person, given her life story. Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss. With warmest...Read More »
8 of 8 | Posted by: Beate Schmittmann

AUG. 24, 1919 - DEC. 29, 2012
Dorothea H. Wohlgemuth Devrnja, 93, of Ames and formerly Buffalo, New York, passed away peacefully at Israel Hospice House on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Visitation will be held on January 2, 2013 at Adams & Soderstrum Funeral Home in Ames from 10:00 to noon. The funeral will be held on January 5, 2013 at St. Stephen's Serbian Orthodox Church in Lackawanna, New York. Interment will be at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cemetery in Jordanville, New York.

Dorothea 's abundant energy, red hair, determination and willingness to take risks made her unforgettable, and her loyalty, sense of camaraderie, and courage defined her life. Born in Mettmann, Germany in 1919, Dorothea was the eldest of three children. After completing business school, Dorothea worked as a secretary and bookkeeper in the Mettmann area until 1941, when in an effort to flee the dangerous political climate in Germany, she found a position in the international Red Cross city of Marienbad (now Marianske Lazne) in then Czechoslovakia. There she met and fell in love with a Yugoslav prisoner- of- war, Milutin Devrnja, a scholar, theologian, and writer, and defying the civil laws of the times, married him in a ceremony performed by another prisoner-of-war, a Russian Orthodox priest. After the liberation of Marienbad by the U.S.A. in May 1945, Milutin was repatriated to post-war Yugoslavia and Dorothea, without legal papers and an infant daughter in her arms, traveled for four months to return to her parents. Crossing forested mountains by night and moving from village to village, usually on foot and once hidden in the back of a coal truck, Dorothea completed a perilous 350 mile journey with the help of friends and strangers along the way. In 1947, Dorothea and Milutin were reunited. On January 1, 1951, they emigrated to the United States with a second daughter (Dana) as WWII Displaced Persons. After living for a few months in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, they settled on a farm in Springboro, Pennsylvania together with another family (Milutin's cousin Nenad Siljegovic and his wife, Lilo Teschner, a childhood friend of Dorothea). During the next three years, Dorothea struggled along with the others to adapt to America and to rigorous rural conditions: milking cows by hand, making cheese, churning butter, raising hogs and chickens, watering by hand an enormous garden, running a household without indoor plumbing, and caring for five small children. In 1954, the two families moved to Buffalo, New York. There Dorothea worked as a book-keeper and, eventually, manager of a furniture store (Goldberg's), and Milutin became a librarian and professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1977, a car accident took Milutin's life and the dreams the couple had for their retirement years dissipated. When Dorothea's first grandchild (Anna) was born in 1983, she once again began a life filled with hope and cheer. In 2007, Dorothea moved to Ames, Iowa to be closer to her family and resided at Bickford Cottage until the day of her death.

She is survived by her daughters: Zora (Thomas) Zimmerman, of Ames; Slobodanka (Dana) of Stuttgart, Germany; four grandchildren: Anna (Zachary Meek) Zimmerman of Kansas City; Elizabeth Zimmerman of Ames; Olivia Dumais of Lockport, N.Y.; Nicholas Tomasulo of Clarence, N.Y.; one great-grandaughter: Layla Dumais; a sister: Ursula Wohlgemuth Kok of Erkrath, Germany; a niece (Sabine), god-sons (Blagoje; Petar) and many close friends and relatives. She was preceded in death by her husband (Milutin), parents (Hermann Wohlgemuth and Elfriede Reimann Wohlgemuth), brother (Artur), and one daughter: Nada.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in her honor may be directed to Reiman Gardens in care of the Iowa State University Foundation.

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Adams Funeral Home
502 Douglas Avenue Ames, IA 50010
Tel. (515) 232-5121
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