On April 26, Gisela Helga Lotte Roger (née Stieber) passed away peacefully at home with her family at her side.
Nothing in her long, full life was taken for granted and no effort was spared to create a loving home for her family, who will miss her immensely; daughters, Margerit and Kerstin (Patrick); and grandchildren, Madeleine and Lucas (Sarah).
Gisela called herself “ein Kind meiner Zeit” (a child of her times). With that she meant that she deeply understood the value of peace, compassion, generosity, and faith. She knew what it was like to have very little and so she found much joy even in small things. She knew what it meant to lose important people to conflict and strife and so was kind to everyone. She believed that, despite hardship and challenges, things would work out as they should. As a result, she had dear friends who appreciated her strength and hopefulness.
Born in Halle an der Saale (Germany), Gisela’s childhood was shaped by the war and the traumatic loss of her father and brother, as well as a courageous move to begin a new life in West Germany as a very young adult. With a business school diploma in hand, she worked as a bookkeeper and accounts manager and soon met a handsome young architect, Dieter, who introduced her to the world of art. She had already made plans to move to New York to be a nanny for a year, so they corresponded while she was away and eventually got engaged by transatlantic. mail. After Gisela returned to Germany, she and Dieter married and, after a honeymoon in Denmark, they spent a few years travelling around America by Greyhound, working as needed and visiting as many art galleries and architectural sites as possible.
After Margerit and Kerstin were born, the young family made the decision to move to Canada. While Dieter worked at the University of Manitoba, Gisela raised the family, painted and wrote, and taught German on the side until she too could restart her career. Starting out as the only administrative assistant in the early years of the Eckhardt-Gramatte Foundation was a great joy for her. Over the years, she was surrounded by art and artists, could put her many skills and talents to use, and later even enjoyed trips overseas to represent the Foundation in Germany and Austria.
When life got challenging, Gisela drew strength from her life experience and her close friends. Baptized an Evangelical Lutheran, she also began attending Fort Garry Mennonite Brethren Church and was grateful to find fellowship and a supportive community there. As she said in her later years, she had felt God’s guidance and protection throughout her life, and she deeply appreciated the openness of the congregation to welcome her “as she was”. It is the same generosity of spirit that she extended to others.
Gisela was a wonderful mother, mother-in-law. and grandmother and a role model of strength and kindness to many. Her home was the family hub for dinners, celebrations, and special events. She loved to explore around Manitoba but loved just as much to be home to work on her latest art project. In her last months, when a lot of her socializing occurred in Zoom rooms, her most precious time was spent as part of a tiny writing group of three initiated by Lucas and Madeleine, the grandchildren. They named their group “I Give You My Word” and took turns providing writing prompts for each other, which resulted in several songs and texts but even more great conversations. No doubt, there would have been a lot of love and some life wisdom dispensed along the way. We will never forget these many gifts. We give you our word.
Interment has taken place as a family and a celebration of her life will be held in the Fort Garry Mennonite Brethren Church in June of 2021 when the pandemic restrictions have been relaxed. In the meantime, Gisela’s family kindly requests that her friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos and/or sharing your own memories and stories using the comment section on this page.
In lieu of flowers, the family would sincerely appreciate contributions, in her memory, to Fort Garry Mennonite Brethren Church, 1771 Pembina Hwy, or Palliative Manitoba, 2109 Portage Avenue.
Memories, Photos, Stories, and Condolences
Please share a story, photo, memory or condolences for the family by completing the form below and click "comment".