A CLOSE friend over a span of 60 years paid a glowing final tribute to a popular Gunnedah resident, Gertrud Elise Charlotte (Trudy) Roessler, at a service of thanksgiving at Edlen Chapel earlier this month.
A large congregation of mourners attended the service, reflecting the high regard in which Mrs Roessler was held in the community.
The service was conducted by the Rev. Jim Furze (Uniting Church) and the eulogy was delivered by long-time friend Iris Steinhaeuser (nee Debney).
Gertrud Thuernagel was born in Grafenwohr, near Nuremburg in Germany, on July 31, 1934, and grew up with her parents and older brother Werner in a semi-rural location on the outskirts of Munich.
Trudy was only five when World War 2 erupted in 1939 and it was 1947 before she saw her father again – he was drafted into the German Army in 1941 and became a prisoner of war.
As a child, Trudy quickly became aware of the grim realities of war – she and her school friends were required to spend hours in the fields collecting aluminium strips dropped from planes to interfere with radar and to collect the eggs, grubs and adults of the potato beetle, dropped to destroy potato crops.
As the tide of war turned against Germany, there were constant air raids, with populated areas heavily bombed.
Trudy and her family spent many hours in their cellar and their home was struck by a detonating bomb in 1944, causing the roof and walls to collapse.
As a young girl, she could often see the red/orange glow of Munich burning.
Her brother Werner was confirmed in the Lutheran Church in the war years but Trudy could not attend, because of the danger of strafing.
After the war and after completing her primary education, Trudy entered vocational college, where she trained and started work as a salesperson.
As a young woman, she met Gerd Roessler, who was working for Allied Forces Military Police, although a trained carpenter/joiner.
Born in Dresden, Gerd fled from Communist-held East Germany after the war, answering a call in 1951 from the AV Jennings Construction Company for builders and carpenters to come to Australia.
The 150 “Jennings Germans” built a large number of homes in rapidly-growing Canberra.
After two years in the nation’s capital, Gerd started looking for a warmer climate and after hearing that work was available at Keepit Dam, he and a friend travelled north.
Somehow, the two arrived in Gunnedah, where Gerd quickly found a job on the rebuilding of the fire-damaged Royal Hotel.
Gerd and Trudy had been corresponding for several years and in late 1955 Trudy flew to Australia to marry Gerd in the Lutheran Church in Goulburn Street in Sydney, before they came back to Gunnedah, where Gerd started building a house.
The couple remained in Gunnedah for the rest of their lives.
As proud Australians, they became heavily involved in their new home.
Trudy found work at Hawke and Treloars general store and a few months later took up employment at the Williamson family newsagency, where she worked from 1956 to 1991..
Among their friends when they came to Gunnedah were Michael and Iris Steinaeuser, the start of a great friendship between Iris and Trudy which continued for 60 years.
Gerd and Trudy had two children, Eric (born 1965) and Christa (born 1967).
The Roesslers’ partnership in Gunnedah lasted until Gerd’s death in February 1999 at the age of 76, both were very much a part of Gunnedah.
Trudy had a broad span of interests – the Lutheran community, Toastmasters, the Women’s Guild, VIEW Club, where she held executive positions, the Probus Club, in which she served as President, and the Tourist Information Centre, where she was a long-standing volunteer.
She enjoyed her craft activities, and valued her craft friends, as well as those in exercise classes with her, she always looked forward to the conversation and coffee afterwards.
She had a lively interest in other people and had an unrivaled sense of humour, forming many lasting friendships over the years.
Mrs Roessler is survived by son Eric and daughter-in-law Anita and by daughter Christa, son-in-law Colin and two grandchildren Charlotte and Hannah.
She is also survived by her brother Werner and his wife Erika and children back in Germany.