Meta Ilse Metzinger Gillette passed away in her home on June 7th, 2019. She was born May 21st, 1937, in Karlsruhe, Germany, where she spent most of her early life, except during a part of WWII, when she was moved to Holland for safety. She met our father Gordon when he was stationed in Germany, and they married there. When his tour was over, she moved with him to America, making her first (and last) voyage on a large ship. She neither spoke, read or wrote in the English language, and it was a time of great upheaval for her. They lived in Urbana as he completed his degree at the University of Illinois. In 1960 they had a daughter there, and then returned to Germany, where he taught for two years at one of the US Military bases. After their return, they moved to Homer, Illinois where dad taught in the High School. They rented a house out in the countryside, which was extremely hard on a city girl with a 3 year old daughter and a newborn son in 1963, with the nearest neighbor a mile down the road. During all that time she was learning to speak, read and write English, and in October of 1965, she finally reached one of her proudest achievements, her United States Citizenship. The language was a hard battle for her, but she wanted to become an American, and with great effort on her part, she attained that sought after distinction. During that time in America, Germans were not always welcomed, especially in rural areas, since so many had lost children there during the war. But she and her family had been grateful to the rescuing Americans, and she strove hard to become one of them. In 1966, they moved back to first Mainz, and then Wiesbaden, Germany, where she raised two overly active young children while he taught for a year in each military base high school. She was back in the city life, with people who spoke like her, and it was then that she and our dad took us on trips all over the surrounding area. We were tiny tourists, with vague memories of vineyards, castles, carnivals with great bratwurst, and cruising the Rhine River on tourist boats. We found out what it was like to not be able to speak the language, but at least we always had our translators with us, and they taught us the phrases we needed to get around, which consisted mainly of the prices of our favorites at the candy pushcarts and communicating with the city bus drivers. Once again, our dad moved her, and now us, too, back to America, where he again moved her to that same house in the countryside. As adults, now, it is hard to imagine how that must have been, with no 2nd car, alone all day except for two kids always scrapping with each other, and no cable or social media to escape to. Finally, in 1969, our Albion grandfather inadvertently came to her rescue when he noticed not only a house for sale, but a teaching position in neighboring Mt. Carmel. And that’s when we moved south to the “big time”, compared to rural Homer. Other than the yearly classic Americana “family vacation”, return family visits to Germany, and a trip to visit her daughter and son-in-law to the land of dreams of her beloved Elvis, “Blue Hawaii”, she never left that house until her passing 50 years later. During that time she worked hard for her family. She didn’t get a driver’s license until after being in America for 14 years, but then she was mobile and loved having her own car. She push-mowed a huge yard for a good part of that time, and loved her plants inside, flowers and garden outside. She refused to get a “modern” washing machine and used a scary ringer washer well into the ‘80s. She did all our sewing on a beautiful old Singer treadle sewing machine. In the late ‘70s she thoroughly enjoyed taking a furniture refinishing class at the local high school with “Mr. Belt”, and was so very proud of our now beautiful rolltop desk and 4-poster antique bedroom sets that she refurbished. She was fiercely defensive of her children, and then her beloved granddaughters as they, too, grew up to be fine adults. She loved to go for long walks around the neighborhood, but in the past couple of years, all that became slower and slower. We cannot recall her going to a doctor in over 40 years; I think she always thought that would “be the end”. When she finally had to go there, that was indeed the case, and she lasted about another 48 hours, which was probably for the best, since she did NOT want to leave her house. She was long ago predeceased by her parents, Elsa and Wilhelm Metzinger, whom we never met, and her only brother Willi, and then in 2013, her husband of 55 years, Gordon. Almost all of her relatives in Germany are long passed. Surviving, in order of age, are her sister-in-law Wanda Bailey of California, her daughter Rose Daugherty (Mitch) of Virginia, her son Raymond of West Salem, who was a great source of comfort and assistance these last months, his “girls”, granddaughters Holly Gourieux (Daniel) of Evansville and Hannah Taylor (Beau), along with their future first great-grandchild of Keensburg. Mom will be cremated, with a family graveside service and interment next to dad, in the Bone Gap family plot at a later date. Any memorial donations can be made to the local Wabash County Animal Shelter Buddies, found online via Facebook, and located at 11336 N 1550 Blvd, Mt Carmel, IL 62863 or at Short-Cunningham Funeral Home, P.O. Box 397, 527 N Mulberry Street, Mt. Carmel, IL 62863.
Condolences may be made online at www.short-cunninghamfh.com.
Short-Cunningham Funeral Home is honored to serve Mrs. Gillette’s family.