Dosia Carlson: A Long Life that Made a Difference

Dosia Carlson

By Barbara Brown Zikmund

She was a young woman born in 1930 who wanted to become a missionary in China. However, after an encounter with polio, her life unfolded in new ways. She studied at Oberlin (Ohio) College, attended a seminary, was ordained, earned a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh and for 14 years taught in a religion department at Defiance College in Ohio.

The Rev. Dr. Dosia Carlson (1930-2021) understood the importance of caring for people who were often the most vulnerable. In 1974, she moved to the Valley of the Sun in Phoenix. There, she committed her life and ministry to the Church of the Beatitudes Campus Lifestyle Community. She founded “DUET: Partners in Health and Aging” (formally the DORA CENTER). In 1979, when she was ordained into Christian Ministry by the United Church of Christ, her call to service in the church and her growing interest in gerontology expanded her growing understanding of aging people.

Music was at the heart of Carlson’s faith. She found important ways to serve on the church staff and explained how her hymnal writings incorporated her faith. She published many hymns. One of her most popular hymns, was “Oh Jesus, I Have Promised to Serve Thee to the End . . . My Master and My Friend.” Her hymns recognized how humans cannot fully comprehend the nature of God. In 1986, she published an autobiographical collection of her hymns entitled God’s Glory. Carlson won several awards and became well known as an Arizona Woman of the Year. She was also honored when the United Church of Christ gave her the Antoinette Brown Award for an Outstanding Women Clergy. 

Dosia Carlson lived to be 91. She died from complications of the Covid-19 virus in January 2021. Her final words were gifts that she repeated for many friends — “God’s love and encouragement exists for people to show love and light.”

This article originally appeared in UCC Roots. The Rev. Dr. Dosia Carlson was living at CHHSM member Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix at the time of her death.

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