This month we remember an amazing woman, Selma Wackenhut from the Oaks at Hampton. Her story is full of rich history, hard times, and vibrant triumphs.
Selma Wackenhut was born in Ukraine on June 22, 1929. Her family emigrated there from Germany in the late 1800’s. She was the oldest of five girls, and she was quite a bit older than her 4 younger sisters. Selma’s father decided to leave for Germany in hopes that he would be able to start over and send for the family. Her family lived on a farm and raised crops as a means to live. Her mother remarried, and 3 of the 4 sisters were born. Selma being the oldest worked with her mother and stepfather in the fields until her sisters came along and then she had to stay home and care for the children. The weather during the growing months was beautiful, and she loved the orchards and fields of flowers. Unfortunately, the cold winters were long and difficult.
Ukraine was a horrible place to be during the war. In addition to the freezing cold, there was no food and no place to live. The war in Ukraine had a significant effect on Selma’s life. In 1941 Stalin forced all Germans to evacuate. If they did not leave, they were sent to Siberia or killed. Selma, her mother, 3 of the sisters, and other family members were forced to leave in the middle of winter on a sleigh and headed west. They spent several years going from work camp to work camp until they finally ended up in Germany. Here she worked as a nanny for the Duke and Duchess that lived in a small manor nearby. She loved her job and the boys that she cared for, but she yearned for more.
Selma broke the rules and snuck out of her bedroom window one night to venture out on her own. She left for Stuttgart and immediately got a job in a bakery/café. There she met her husband Guenther. They fell in love and along came their oldest child Bernie. Guenther was an electrical engineer and heard so many stories about America, and he convinced her to move to the United States with their small son. They arrived in the US in 1957. Along came Raymond while living in Pittsburgh and then Sylvia after they moved to Rockford, Illinois. Guenther was always looking for something new and exciting, and this brought them to Georgia.
Life in the States
They remained in Georgia raising their 3 children. Guenther took the ultimate step and started his own business and was very successful. They both always wanted the best for their children. Bernie graduated from Georgia Tech with a masters in Computer Science, Raymond followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a machinist. Sylvia has a master’s degree in Instructional Technology and now teaches German in Forsyth County.
Selma lost her husband just shy of their 50th anniversary. He was 73. She remained in their home until 2014.
Selma loves to go on walks. To this day she is amazed at the beauty of nature all around her. She is there for anyone who needs her, and you will never have a better friend than Selma. Selma seems very little and quiet but make no mistake. She is one tough lady!!
It is with a heavy heart that the Oaks Senior Living community had such a strong, beautiful woman pass away. She always lit up our halls, and she will not be forgotten. We love to remember and highlight all of our residents. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to read more of these fascinating resident stories.