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Gerta Barlow (nee Offczarczyk)
A Selesian beauty, who survived the siege of Breslau and Nazi Germany, died on November 20, 2012 at the age of 84.
Gerta lived a life of strength and tenacity, which continued to the end. Gerta was born in Breslau Germany in 1928 to Erwin Offczarczyk and Rosa Proskauer. Because Rosa was Jewish, the family was subject to persecution by the Nazis, including her brother Werner's years in a forced labor camp. After surviving much destruction, she left Germany at the age of 21 and came to the United States as an interpreter for the United States Army. She arrived in New Orleans and traveled across the country to Los Angeles, where she restarted her education first at Santa Monica Community College, where she was elected the Homecoming Queen, and University of Southern California for one semester, and then pursued and obtained her B.S. in bacteriology at University of California at Los Angeles. In the midst of working on a Masters degree at UCLA in Parasitology she met and married George Barlow, the love of her life. In 1958 they travelled to Germany for George's post-doctoral education with Konrad Lorenz. Their first daughter, Linda, was born there in 1960. After returning to the US, two more daughters, Bicka and Nora, were born in Champagne Urbana, Il. The family moved to Berkeley CA in 1966 where they remained. Gerta was a wonderful stay at home mom who introduced the family to such delights as sashimi and tofu. Gerta was an amazing self-taught chef who took great pleasure in her ability to delight and entertain her many guests. Gerta especially enjoyed the year the family spent in Oxford, England in 1974.
George and Gerta were hosts to many intellectual giants who were a continuous source of entertainment and education for their three girls. Their house was full of stimulating conversation, including commentary about Englishmen who wore socks with sandals and ate their peanut butter sandwiches with a knife and fork.
Gerta was a successful realtor in Berkeley who had numerous return clients due to her diligence and honesty. She also took great satisfaction in her years as a docent at the Oakland Museum where she loved giving tours to young children and teaching them about the history of her adopted state of California. After the children left home, George and Gerta traveled the world visiting such places as China, Turkey, Egypt, Nepal, Tahiti, Australia and the Amazon River Basin.
Gerta's greatest delight was her children. All three took paths that required commitment and endurance. All three became mothers who made their mother proud. All three continued her legacy of education and commitment to achievement.
Gerta was preceded in death by her parents, Rosa and Erwin Offczarczyk, and her brothers Werner and Franz. Gerta is survived by her sister, Thea Offczarczyk, and her three daughters, Linda (Craig), Bicka (Scott) and Nora (Ken), and her 10 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. For more information please contact Nora Barlow at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 29, 2012