Cover photo for Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD's Obituary
Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD Profile Photo
1935 Dr. 2022

Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD

June 9, 1935 — November 7, 2022



Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD

Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD, age 87, of Mechanicsburg, passed away on Monday, November 7, 2022.  Dorothy was born on Sunday, June 9, 1935, in Lawn to the late David Flory Gish and Leah Mae (Kreider) Gish.  In addition to her parents, Dorothy is preceded in death by her two brothers: David Gish and Harold Gish; and her sister, Irene Bingeman.

Dorothy’s survivors include her significant other of many years, Ivan Kerns of Carlisle; her two sisters: Mary Morrissey of Lebanon; Karen Sellers and her husband, Ken, of Lebanon; her three “kids”: Robert “Bob” Vanderhoff and his wife, Carol, of Knoxville, TN; Nancy Melhorn and her husband, John, of Baltimore, MD;  Fellistus Munakombwe and her husband, Kofi Fumey, of Harrisburg, formerly of Zambia; her beloved “granddaughter”, Giovanna; several nieces and nephews; and many dear friends.

Dorothy graduated from Hershey High School as part of the class of 1952.  She went on to earn a BA from Greenville College, B.A., Psychology/Education, and both an M.Ed. and a PhD in Child Development/Family Relationships from Penn State University.  After college, Dorothy taught first grade for a year in Elizabethtown, PA and then went to be in charge of Macha Girls School in Southern Province in what was then Northern Rhodesia, Africa; it became independent Zambia in October 1964.  Dorothy came home in January 1965 and entered Penn State University in August.  She obtained her Master’s degree the next year and then served as instructor in family relations, child development/family relationships, College of Home Economics, Penn State University in the fall of 1966.  In January of 1967, Dorothy returned to Zambia and served as Dean of Women at a co-ed secondary school in Choma, Zambia, Africa for the next two years.  That summer she worked as a teacher at a daycare center in Lebanon, PA.  She then returned to Penn State to work on her doctorate which she completed in two calendar years.  Dorothy joined the faculty at Penn State for a year as Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education and then went on to Messiah College, where she served from 1972-2000.  During that time, Dorothy served as head of the Home Economics Department; chairperson of the Behavioral Science Department; Acting Dean of Student Development; Assistant Dean of Messiah College; Associate Dean of the faculty; Acting Dean of Messiah College and Academic Vice President; Academic Dean; and when she retired, the Messiah College Board granted her Academic Dean Emeritus status.  While at Messiah, she began the Early Childhood Education Laboratory School, the Elderhostel ED Program and Faculty Growth and Development Team.  After retirement, Dorothy worked part time for the Brethren in Christ Denomination to get their online program off the ground.  She served as Dean of Equipping for Ministry, Brethren in Christ Denomination from 2003-2015.  Dorothy moved to Messiah Village in 2016.  She received numerous academic honors and awards, served on 17 boards and had numerous articles published.  Dorothy conducted research in Brazil, Bolivia, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Zambia; and seminars, workshops and inspirational messages were given in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.  She was a member of the Meeting House (formerly the Carlisle Brethren in Christ Church), the Peen Cumberland Garden Club and was registered as Independent.

All are welcome to join Dorothy’s family at her memorial service on Sunday, November 20, 2022, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at The Meeting House Church Carlisle Campus, 1155 Walnut Bottom Road, Carlisle, PA 17015.

To honor Dorothy’s commitment to health and education, her body has been donated to Pennsylvania Humanity Gifts Registry.

While Dorothy’s family will not be accepting flowers, they invite those wishing to celebrate Dorothy’s life with a memorial contribution to make them to the South Africa Women’s Educational Fund at BIC U.S. World Missions, 431 Grantham Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055,; or Christian Leadership Development Africa, 60 Oak Road, York Haven, PA 17370.

Dorothy’s family has entrusted her care to Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421.  Read Dorothy’s full obituary, offer condolences and sympathy, share stories and memories, upload photographs and videos, light a candle and sign her official guest book by visiting

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Dorothy Jean Gish, PhD, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

The Meeting House Church - Carlisle Campus

1155 Walnut Bottom Road, Carlisle, PA 17015

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