Dorothy Boys Kilian was born July 6, 1913 in Streator, IL, a daughter of Tom and Estelle Boys. She attended Gulf Park College, transferred to Northwestern University and earned a BA in English Journalism in 1934, followed by an MA in English Literature from the University of Illinois in 1937. In December 1937 she married Henry Martin Kilian and they lived in Southern California where Henry worked as a petroleum geologist. In 1947 they settled in Pasadena to raise their three children. During this period they were active in the community and at Pasadena Presbyterian Church where Dorothy edited the weekly paper for 15 years. She also kept a 6-9 a.m. regimen of writing short stories and magazine articles, many of which were published.
Dorothy and Henry began attending All Saints Episcopal Church during the Vietnam War, and became active in the peace movement. After Henry's death in 1971, Dorothy devoted her energies tirelessly to peace and social justice issues in the states and around the world. Her commitment to peace took her to Russia and the former Soviet Union on nine peace-seeking journeys. As a result she organized the US/Soviet Relations Committee, Reverse the Arms Race Committee, and the sister church relationship between All Saints Church and St Kosma and Damien Church in Moscow.