Erna Maria Simon
october 15, 1925 – May 25, 2022
RACINE- Erna Maria Simon, 96, passed away at St. Monica’s Senior Living on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
Erna Maria Loebig was born in Muenster-Dieburg Germany on October 15, 1925. She came of age in an increasingly unstable world, witness to the horrors of war and the terror of bombs falling from the sky with ever-increasing frequency. After finishing the standard eight-years of schooling, she was sent to live and work on a farm and after completing her year-long work assignment on the farm she, like others of her age and gender, were required to make themselves available for work assignments that could change daily. She worked for a time with French POWs assembling trigger mechanisms for bombs and learning French from one of her imprisoned coworkers.
After the war ended in 1945, she was walking the streets of Muenster, with a group of girlfriends when a jeep full of GIs approached and started talking to them in an unfamiliar language. She thought one of the GIs, the one with blue eyes, asked her name. And so began the story she never tired of telling family, friends, or any stranger with time to pass.
How do two people who don’t share a common language communicate in a meaningful way? Pantomime is short-lived and amusing but an interpreter, while undeniably the proverbial “third-wheel,” can help bridge the gap. And when your suitor is part of Military Government in a vanquished land, he has access to interpreters and much more.
Erna and Edward Simon were married in Muenster-Dieberg, Germany, in August, 1947. They separated briefly as Edward departed for discharge in New Jersey, and Erna by troop ship, destined for a rendezvous with her new husband in New York City.
Their honeymoon in New York was short and they soon departed by train for Racine, where they lived in an upstairs flat on Jones Avenue and welcomed two sons and one daughter before moving to a new home in distant Caledonia in 1961.
Erna learned to speak English with the help of her husband and his parents but her ability to write the new language was self-taught, primarily by reading contemporary magazines like Life and Look. While fluent in both German and English, she was never satisfied with her English, always telling others how awful it was and that “I speak with an accent.”
Erna worked for a time at Mamco and Andis Clipper but her passion in life was her home and garden. Aunt Erna also served in the role of a mother to her three nephews after the untimely death of their mother in 1972.
Erna was preceded in death by her husband, Edward in 1989. She was the last in her family of six sisters and one brother, preceded in death by her mother, Karoline; father, Nickolaus; step brother, Heiner; step-sisters: Elise, Marie, and Babet; and sisters: Gretel and Eva.
Erna is survived by her children: Gerold (Kathleen), Eugene (Carol) and Gail Simon; Grandchildren: Geoffrey (Nikki) Simon, Kimberly Simon and Holly (Kevin) Christiansen; great granddaughters: Matilda Simon and Leah Christiansen; and great-grandson, Ryan Christiansen; Nephews: Dennis Ketzer and Sharon Johnson, Danny (Cheryl) Ketzer and Douglas Ketzer in the US; nephew and niece: Juergen (Monika) Gruen and Monika Krehemeer in Muenster, Germany.
A memorial visitation for Erna will be held on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, from 10:00 am until the time of service at 11:30 am at Purath-Strand Funeral Home. Private information will take place in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Purath Beach Funeral Home & Crematory
3915 Douglas Ave
Racine, WI 53402
Published by Racine Journal Times on May 29, 2022.