Gisela M. Hocij
In Loving Memory of our Mutti (Mother) & Oma (Grandmother)
Gisela passed peacefully surrounded by family on January 22, 2022. Her life journey survived the war at an incredibly young age and created a legacy of hard work, willpower, courage, and love. On March 24, 1935, she was born in Königsberg, East Prussia, known today as Kaliningrad, Russia. She was the second oldest of seven. She grew up working long hours with her family on local farms. The innocent lives of her family were forever changed when war forced them out of their home. We will never forget the memories of what she endured and memories close to her heart.
Shared memories of her traveling at night in the middle of war alone with her youngest brother and miraculously making it to her destination, her father forced into a labor camp, and her mother is left to fend on her own with seven children. The oldest siblings were Gisela and her older sister and no older than middle schoolers. Many unforgettable shared experiences forged the importance of family and determination to survive and find each other again.
Gisela's courage, determination, and beyond belief, family responsibilities aided in her family's survival during the war at such a young age. The family eventually made it to the west side and resided in Prinzenmoor, Germany. There they found work with a local farmer, and in return, the farmer provided sanctuary in a barn. Many years ago, she went back once more to her roots. She had the opportunity to visit and reminisce with the same farmer's family. She was also able to stop by her old school and be thankful to experience the joy of seeing missed family and friends again. Hearing about the happy times and memories was extra special, given all the family had experienced. It is a reminder of a family's extraordinary dedication, strength, and courage and surviving through it all.
The family eventually made their way to the US. From the New Orleans port up to York, Nebraska. The family began working on a farm for those displaced from the war and received an opportunity for a fresh new start. They eventually settled in Lincoln to rebuild and create new memories.
Gisela eventually moved to Omaha, where she married Stephan, a mechanic during the war. They were married and had their own large family of eight. Her strength again challenged, for Stephan unexpectedly passed on a few years after their youngest was born. She did her best to support the family and worked several jobs. Her kids stepped up with courage and knew what they needed to do. There were rough times, and the love from her big family allowed them to pull through. Gisela's family was where she drew her strength and left her legacy, and that love is preserved forever in our hearts. She loved being a Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother. Those were the closest to her heart.
In addition to supporting the family, Gisela loved to keep busy. You could find her attending to her massive garden with everything under the sun, sharing memories with her grandchildren, cooking a savory meal, or watching and feeding the birds outside her window. Her large garden provided all the fresh ingredients for her unforgettable cooking, freshly picked and made with love. The best recipes were passed down, always cooked with pounds of potatoes, just like Oma (Grandma) and Opa (Grandpa) always used to do. She cherished the time spent with her grandchildren. Gisela loved doting over and being near her loved ones. She delighted in strolling around the block, walking in the zoo with the kids, and fishing on the lake. Gisela took pleasure in passing down traditions and teaching her kids her recipes. She enjoyed watching everyone grow up. Her heart and smile were big. She was humble and kind and never forgot all that she and her family had endured.
Not only did Gisela survive the many battles of the war. She also fought battles with her health. The older Gisela became, many were amazed by her long life regardless of the barriers faced. Through it all, she never gave up and always kept fighting. Gisela was faster than us all with her scooter and always kept her active no matter how small. She was a few months away from turning 87, and if she could have, she would have lived for many more. It was the labor of love from her family that made this possible. Not just only when it was easy, but also when it was challenging. The love and caring for her remained constant. Gisela was thankful for her family and all that they did. And her family was grateful to have her in their lives for as long as they did. Her strength, love, family, and courage are what kept her going for years to come. She dedicated a life of service to those she loved, and in the end, her kids did the same. She was a strong, kind, beautiful, loving, determined, and brave woman. She was a survivor and forever in our hearts.
Gisela is survived by her children, Stephan, Bohdan, Theodore, Christine, Mary Cyr, Susan, Stephanie Tusa, and Doris; grandchildren: Lisa, Tanya, Royce, Elisabeth, Emily, David, Zoey, and Hailey; great-grandchildren: Marisha, Louisa, Callie, and brother Horst.
Predeceased by her husband, Stephan (1980), granddaughter Dominique (2020), and great-grandson Thomas (2011); siblings: Klaus (2021), Liselotte (2019), Siegfried (2012), Gunther (2006), Rudi (1995), and parents Hans (1990) and Margaret (Pfaff) Pikschus (1992).
A private family service was held January 28, 2022.