Dorothy Doss: The incredible faith of Mrs Doss

By sticking by her husband’s side through thick and thin for 49 years, Dorothy Doss really exemplified the old adage “behind every great man is a great woman”.

By Linden Chuang.


It would be easy for those who have watched Hacksaw Ridge to label Dorothy Schutte as the “love interest” or “pretty face” in the movie. Doing so, however, would be a tremendous injustice to the woman who was as much a champion of faith as her war-hero husband.

The love between Dorothy and Desmond was anchored in faith. The two met at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Lynchburg, Virginia, and were married on August 17, 1942. Dorothy said she married Desmond because she could trust him. “He was a good Christian and I figured he would help me go to Heaven.”

If that doesn’t sound very romantic, don’t worry—there were plenty of fuzzy feelings too. “He was the first one I ever kissed,” she added.

Desmond Doss with his wife Dorothy and friends

The Bible which Desmond so famously carried through his army experience was a gift from Dorothy, which she inscribed with the following message: “If we do not meet another time on this earth, we have the assurance of a happy meeting place in heaven. May God in His mercy grant us both a place there.”

Desmond returned from the war but with scars that wouldn’t heal so swiftly. He would spend the next six years in hospital getting treatment for Tuberculosis, with the disease leaving him 90 per cent disabled and claiming one of his lungs and five ribs.

With Desmond confined to the hospital bed, Dorothy would raise their son Desmond “Tommy” Jr alone for the first five years of his life. She also completed her nursing training to help support her family financially.

Despite the hardships, Dorothy’s faith and love for her family remained strong. In 1976 Desmond lost his hearing due to complications with the Tuberculosis antibiotics. Dorothy began writing messages to him so they could communicate, jokingly calling herself his “hearing ear dog”.

Dorothy would have her battles with sickness too. She was diagnosed and underwent surgery for breast cancer in 1982. Her health improved over the next eight years before rapidly deteriorating.

On November 17, 1991, the Dosses were on their way to the hospital for one of her regular treatments when Desmond lost control of the car. The vehicle plunged down an embankment and Dorothy was killed as it rolled over. According to an interview with Tommy in the Chinook Observer, the accident happened less than a mile from their home at Lookout Mountain. He believes Dorothy died instantly. She was 70 years old.

They say “behind every great man is a great woman”. Yet even this quote fails to aptly describe Dorothy Schutte Doss. In 49 years of marriage she was right by her husband’s side as his spiritual counterpart, and the two of them accomplished great things for God as a result.

These sentiments echo Tommy’s own thoughts of his mother. He said, “She’s the most underrated person in this whole thing. So much of what has happened to my dad would not have happened had it not been for her.”

So the next time you watch or read the story of Hacksaw Ridge, think about the faith of Doss. Both Mr and Mrs.

The image of Desmond, Dorothy and other members of the Doss family is provided by the Desmond Doss Council.

28 thoughts on “Dorothy Doss: The incredible faith of Mrs Doss

    1. I saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge Loved it But there was very little of her story, their story would love to see a movie of their story, I loved this article about MRS. Doss.

  1. Wow, what an inspiring couple whose focus on God can not be wavered and this is what true love is about. Love God and your neighbours.

    1. All to saddened is the life story of our grandfathers– grandmother’s– grand uncles and niece’s; which all lived through those tragic war years 1941 to 1945 throughout Europe and the Pacific South Seas. There are so many life inspiring true to life renditions about the cruelty and utter devastation of the human spirit.
      Private Does along with Mrs. Does remind me if the low yellow living room lights I once saw in my grandparents house, of course that experience with the dimmed yellowish lights sitting with my grandparents was along 53 years ago; and still today….I feel that I was born into the entirety wrong time— my dreams go back to the 1935 Chevy Roadster that my father aquired through his everyday aquaintences as my dad repaired telephone equipment!
      Check this message out later to see if I am allowed to continue texting ok?! Live life- Earn the right to Love– and love the one your with , and always referently remember— the teenage boys that became a man then sacrificed they’re tomorrow’s so that the world– and America– should still be a democratic and loving family— the “Earth Family” for love and peace at all costs!!

  2. I am so happy to see, and read, something that accurately addresses the roll my mother played in my fathers life. Elsewhere, there have been distortions about her beginnings, life, and death. Her influence in our family can not be overstated.
    She was the the guiding force in my life, and loved me unconditionally.
    At her funeral, I was overwhelmed by the number of people that she had personally touched. She worked quietly.

    1. It was obvious the Holy Spirit filled both of your parents, Desmond Jr., and they had a place prepared for them long before they went where they are now; a place where no tears exist nor pain exists–a place where oh so few of us in the flesh will ever understand nor get as the ultimate prize. I thank God for the entire Doss story, from the combination of your parents’ lives to this sinful world; I am blessed beyond what I’ve ever been blessed with!

    2. I know I’m a little young to know what true love is or under estimate people and what they can do but even after watching the movie a couple times i sit there and think how much Your parents have done for so many like your father saving many men in Okinawa and making it so there wasn’t many funerals and families left behind without a dad. I hope that their spirits will still float around because its always good to know that someone did good for the country and know that they are respected. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.

    3. It may not be anything to many, but “I” want HONOR DESMOND by displaying his name as a TATTOO. Hope to this coming year (2018). THANK YOU

  3. I miss them both dearly. Aunt Dorothy, as I called her all of my life, was
    One of those special people who was so grounded in her love of God, that she always had just the right things to say to lift you up and plant your feet back on the right path, and that was God loved YOU! I was so privileged to know her, and to spend an hour on the phone with her on her last Sabbath here on this earth.
    I am so grateful for the sacrifices she made, and the loving example she and uncle Desmond set for us younger people. One day soon we shall meet again!

  4. Thank you for sharing Desmond & Dorothy ‘ s Story. I went to then CUC where I met Desmond. I still have the cookware and Cutco knives I bought from him! He was a true hero by all standards!

  5. I am so touched by this couple’s story. My faith in God just got strengthened!

    Mel Gibson is a great man, Hacksaw Ridge made me cry profusely!!! I’m still crying to think this is a true life story….
    God is real. He is reliable, dependable. God is life!

    Laila from Nigeria.

  6. So sorry Dorthy had such a tough go of it the last part of her life. Even sadder that the love of her life was driving.

  7. This movie just blew me away, the power of true, living faith in God, shone through in their lives, I have no words to express the impact on me, PRAISE God!!!

  8. I am glad that I started researching Desmond Doss before our Doss Family Reunion the first Sunday in August. One cousin bought the movie so we can show it at the reunion in the Nance Creek Community Center, south of Piedmont. Many said it was a good movie and would love to see it again. Others, especially females, said it was a great movie but the gory war scenes were awful. I replied, “That’s the way war is, awful and gory!” Like Desmond stated, “To God Be The Glory.”

  9. Watching this movie I witnessed the Power the LORD gives to a believer with out the Love and the belief that he had for the LORD it would not have been possible it shows us how the Love of the LORD makes all thing possible.

  10. I have few words to adequately describe the integrity, character, and moral fortitude of Desmond Doss as displayed in Hacksaw Ridge.
    After watching the movie, I was truly stunned and inspired by the incredible display of God’s providence at work in Desmond’s life.
    In my opinion, and with all due respect for God’s word, Desmonds story rivals anything I’ve ever read in the scripture. Truly amazing

  11. Such an amazing movie !! Still crying . And reading the stories of their true faith in God gives me the chills. You just know they are in Heaven with our savior Jesus Christ ???????????????????????? God Bless them both xo

  12. I have watched Hacksaw Ridge over and over and it brings great joy in my heart that your father never wavered in his faith as well as your mother. It inspires me to be a better Christian everyday. It truly proves that faith in God and Christ can get a person, much like Desmond and Dorothy can help you through tbe good and bad times in life. In 2015 I almost died twice and people ask me how I survided and I simply reply, My faith in God and Christ. Dorothy and Desmond are truly a great testament to that and I can’t even imagine how proud young Desmond must feel to have wonderful parents as they were. Special thanks to Mr. Mel Gibson for making such an accurate portrayal of the Doss family. Two people I would love to meet in the Kingdom of God.

  13. I just love the faith of both Mr and Mrs Doss. May their beautiful souls rest in peace until that Glorious Morning when Christ will come again and call His believers one by one. God leads, I will one day see them in Heaven. I have watched the movie once and inspirational. Not on the horrible sights of the war but of a brave and faithful servant of God.

  14. The movie was amazing I am not a fan of mel gibson which is why it took me so long to see the movie. However the true story of desmond Doss is worth seeing.

  15. This is a beautiful story of 2 very beautiful people who had such faith in God and each other. The movie did make me cry though.

  16. I’ve seen this movie more than once, and would dearly love Mel Gibson to do a follow up on Mr and Mrs Doss after the war and their life together. Your parents were one in a million, it’s a magnificent story, faith can move mountains and strong conviction of God can never be beaten. Many men have tried to fight against God and failed. A life without God is like an unsharpened pencil it has no point. Blessings

  17. There are those who need religion to be good and do good. The family Doss are not members of that congregation.

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