Katharina “Kate” Dietsch, 88, of Essex, passed away on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at Mansfield Place in Essex. She was born on December 12, 1928 in Mönchengladbach, Germany daughter to the late Joseph and Eva (Jansen) Walbeck.
Poverty, losing her father at an early age and WWII were the major forces that shaped Kate’s childhood. Always the stern faced child in pictures, she was ever vigilant over her beloved younger sister Marlene. After surviving the war, the young adults tried to make a life for themselves in Germany where housing and work were hard to find. Kate was introduced to Hans through Marlene and a group of close knit friends. Hans and Kate married on Feb 19, 1954. Kate was a fierce and devoted sister, mother and wife. When Hans came back to Germany critically ill after working in the Middle East, she nurtured him back to health on a special diet consisting of fresh foods for months all the while caring for their baby son Harald, born while Hans was overseas. She would have to make many trips into town to obtain provisions for the family. She did this on foot in all kinds of weather with little Harald bundled up in a wagon trekking up and down the hills of the village where they lived. The group of friends decided that a better life could be found in the United States and they each started their journeys to get there. Hans, sponsored by Marlene and her husband Karl Hienz, left for Canada to find work. After securing a job it was time for Kate to make the journey. Bravely traveling by ship with her small son, mother Eva, a few dollars and speaking no english, Kate endured a tough voyage finally landing in Montreal and then riding the train for several days and nights until they reached Vancouver BC. A pioneer woman in her own right, Kate made a home for her family in the woods of Vancouver. Hearing Stories of her chasing away rattle snakes in the yard before Harald could play outside, riding a newly cut Christmas tree down a hill after realizing she and Harald were being stalked by a cougar, fishing for Salmon in the nearby river, and making the weekly trek to the train stop to get a ride into town to get provisions, we were always amazed at her courage and resourcefulness.
Immigrating to the US was the beginning of a wonderful and fulfilling life for Kate. Settling first in Peabody MA, the family grew to include a daughter Carla. A happy time of family and continuing friendship was begun with all of the original 4 couples from Germany living within just a few miles of each other. Kate was an avid cook, talented seamstress, gardener and animal lover. She was always in motion and could often be found working alongside Hans making some home improvement project. She cooked many delicious meals for friends and family. Her green thumb was evident all around the homes she lived in, always full of beautiful flowers and vegetables. She was happiest at home with her family gathered around enjoying one of her hearty meals. Stories of the past, of the children, and then the grandchildren always filled the air with love and laughter. She felt most at home in Vermont and loved to watch nature and the abundant wildlife that made its home around them. She will be dearly missed by her family. We would like to thank the staff and friends at Mansfield Place, the VNA, Doctor Joe Haddock and nurse Margaret at TCHC for allowing her comfort and dignity in her final days.
This poem was found in her jewelry box that she had saved for many years:
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the softly falling snow,
I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain,
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am in the star shine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I do not die.
- Makah Indian Poem
Kate is survived by her son Harald Dietsch and wife Polly of Essex Jct., her daughter Carla Ely and husband Rod of Estero, FL, her sister Marlene Michael of Naples, FL, her brother-in-law Gunther Dietsch and wife Heidi of Marl, Germany, her sisters-in-law Anne Marie Bosse, Krista Kretchmar and husband Connie both of Weissenfels, Germany, four grandchildren, Samantha Dietsch and partner Alex Summerfield, Eric Dietsch, Kristen Glick and husband Adam, Brent Ely, several nieces and nephews. Kate was also predeceased by her husband Hans Erich Dietsch on July 22, 2016.
Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at A W Rich Funeral Home – Essex Chapel, 57 Main Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Inurnment will be private and at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions in Kate’s memory may be made to the Chittenden County VNA, Home Care or Hospice Program, 1110 Prim Road Suite # 1, Colchester, VT 05446. The family also invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting www.awrfh.com.