Erna Mansfeld

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Erna Viktoria (Lunkwitz) Mansfeld, age 103, died on May 17, 2011, at Prestige Care and Rehabilitation Center in Anchorage.

Known affectionately as "Oma" to her family, Erna was born in Freistadt Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) on Aug. 14, 1907, to Minna Lunkwitz. Her father died when she was 3. Minna immigrated to America in 1910, leaving Erna with her grandmother. Erna grew up in Danzig, surviving two world wars. She married Leo Czoske around 1930. Leo drove an ambulance for the Red Cross and owned the family store, Leo Czoske Spedition. Erna managed the store, selling vegetables to ships docked at the port of Danzig. They had four children: Gunther, Marion, Ingeborg and Horst. When World War II broke out, Leo was drafted into the German army, serving as an officer until killed by partisans in Dublin, Poland, around 1941. Erna ran the store on her own until war made it impossible. After the Russians liberated Danzig, the family was forced out along with the remaining German population. As the war ended they were trapped in Russian-occupied Europe. Erna planned and managed an escape to the West by splitting up her family, paying bribes and hoping for the best. She reunited them later in Lubeck, Germany, at her aunt Anna's.

On May 31, 1947, Erna married Peter Paul Johannes "Hans" Mansfeld in Rofslau, Germany. Hans was a Stuka pilot in WWII, was shot down over England and interned in a British POW camp. He escaped and made his way back home. Hans moved the family to Bruhl, Germany, where they lived until immigrating to America in 1953. Daughter Marion remained in Bruhl.

They settled in Cheyenne, Wyo., where Erna's mother, now Minna Nichols, lived. Erna had two half-sisters, Gladys and Jean. On July 11, 1960, Erna and Hans became naturalized US citizens. They moved to Chicago in 1965; Glendo, Wyo., in 1968; and Anchorage in 1969.

Erna was a homemaker and strong head of household. She loved gardening, flowers (especially African violets), Chihuahua dogs, fishing and her family. She could be seen riding the bus around town with Ingeborg well into her 90s, frequenting malls and local parks.

Erna was preceded in death by husbands Leo Czoske and Hans Mansfeld; sons Gunther Czoske and Horst Czoske (aka Mike Mansfield); daughter Ingeborg (Czoske) Mansfield;and half-sisters Gladys (Nichols) Scofield and Jean (Nichols) Schlect. She is survived by daughter Marion (Czoske) Neumann and husband Franz of Bruhl, Germany; granddaughter Edeltraud Ansorge and husband Friedrich of Kall, Germany; grandson Michael Mansfield and wife Cheri ; grandson Ed Mansfield and wife Marie; granddaughter Margaret Crowell; granddaughter Susan Lane; grandson Paul Czoske and wife Melanie; grandson Johnny Czoske; and nine great-grandchildren and other relatives.

A memorial service is being planned for Aug. 14, 2011, which would have been Erna's 104th birthday. Contact Michael Mansfield for more information at 907-346-1833 or at [email protected] .

Published in Anchorage Daily News from May 27 to May 28, 2011