Obituary of Giselle Spannaus Hutten Pekkain
Gisele Spannaus Hutten Pekkain, 84, passed away peacefully after suffering a stroke on December 14, 2018. Gisele was born in Tilsit, Lithuania, known now as Sovetsk, Russia. As a very young child, she and her family fled East Prussia to Gottingen, Germany where she remained until 1955. In addition to her mother Ellie and step-father Heinz Spannaus, who was a well-known accomplished musician, she had two brothers, Jurgen and Klaus. Her fondest childhood memories always included her maternal grandmother, Szule (Wellnus) Genutt and their mutual love of music and each other.
She immigrated from war-torn Germany to Windsor, Canada in 1955 and worked for an American family as a housekeeper. One evening she joined a group of fellow German immigrants for an evening at a local dance hall and there met her first husband Gus Hutten. In 1956, with their first-born daughter Gail a mere six weeks old, the new family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Santa Rosa, California. Robert, and twins Rebecca and Lucy came along in the late 1950’s, completing the family of six. The family moved to Rohnert Park in 1959.
In Rohnert Park’s early years, Gisele was known by many for her love of music. She was the pianist at St. Joseph Church and the Lutheran Church, juggling both every Sunday. She played the piano at various school’s music departments for graduation ceremonies and in the classroom when needed. She gave private lessons in piano to many Rohnert Park youngsters and adults well into her seventies. Music was a daily joy all her life.
Speaking no English when she arrived as an immigrant, she was determined to learn the language. Crossword puzzles were her constant companion rewarding her eventually with a command of the language. You could also find her trailed by her four children, all carrying a bucket, roaming the open land along the many creeks outside Rohnert Park, collecting blackberries for jam. She joined the Rohnert Park Women’s Tennis League in the 1960’s, and eventually met her husband, Jim Pekkain, who is known by early Rohnert Park families as the former Recreation Director for the city. Gisele and Jim married in 1994 and could be found many days on a Rohnert Park tennis course or golf course and at the Gateway Christian Church in Rohnert Park where they are devoted members.
Gisele’s family includes her husband, Jim Pekkain, children, Gail, Robert, Rebecca, Lucy (Terry), and eight grandchildren, Alexandra (Garo), Spencer (Yvette), Nicole (Peter), Danny (Katy), Christina, Jessica, Bobby (Rochelle), Jonathan and nine great-grandchildren; Taline, Lorelei, Tristan, Landon, Isaiah, Elery, Finn, Lennox, Oscar.
Private interment at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.
On January 19th at 1pm there will be a Celebration of Gisele’s life at the Gateway Christian Church, 311 Professional Center Dr, Rohnert Park for family and friends.