British Heart Foundation
Registered Number 225971
Stephanie/Stevie/Steve/Oma was born in 1927 in Breslau Silesia (then forming the most easterly part of Germany). Early memories of going to school in Breslau focussed on having to daily pass a gaggle of farmyard geese, and these geese did not endear themselves to a young Steve who learnt to run quite fast at an early age.
As for most people of this generation, Steve’s teenage years were impacted adversely by WWII. After losing her mother, Gabriele (neé Hipper), to the Nations ambitions at the age of 14 and with her Father, Herbert Seifert, posted to West Germany, Steve spent the remaining years of the war living with her Grandmother in Breslau. At the close of the war Steve fled with her Grandmother from the advancing Russian army and reached the Allies, having traversed war-torn Germany both on foot and by hitched rides in ammunition trucks.
After a few years of post war turmoil Steve turned her back on her homeland and the memories she wished to leave behind and emigrated to England to train as a nurse.
In England Steve thrived and in due course met and married George in 1950. Together they travelled the world where they experienced a series of exciting adventures that never ceased. Steve and George grew their family with the birth first of June and then with Gordon and they did not let either of these impediments slow them down. Wherever George, an RAF engineer, was posted they always explored the country they were living in and those that it bordered. Postings in Germany, England, Africa and Cyprus led to travels with their children touring Scotland, Israel, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Austria and Switzerland amongst others. Often the family would travel through Germany, along the “romantic road” or explore the Schwarzwald along with visiting the very few surviving family members in Eschershausen. However, only someone with a death-wish would ever ask Steve if she would ever consider returning to live in Germany! Steve was proudly British and refused to acknowledge that she carried even a residual accent (!) throughout her life.
Throughout most of this time Steve continued to practise her nursing profession and invariably took up local nursing posts in the countries in which they lived. Whilst in Africa Steve worked with the Red Cross and ventured to far out villages in carrying out her nursing duties, often vaccination programs, but more normally in the local Forces hospital.
After George’s retirement from the RAF they settled together in Hainford, Norfolk. With George now a local Civil Servant, Steve took up a nursing position with the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where she continued until her retirement in 1987. Her travels with George did not cease after his retirement from the RAF and now unfettered by family, their exploration of the world extended to the far reaches of the USSR, Asia, the far east, middle east, and the frozen North from Canada to Norway.
After George’s death in 1983 Steve continued to venture out into the world and soon had several like-minded travelling companions to lead, and to keep her company. Many of her family (she now had three grandsons) tried to persuade her to visit the USA which seemed a glaring omission from her list of conquests. However, she stubbornly refused declaring that ‘it was far too modern to be of any interest’. Apparently, Alaska (which she had visited twice) did not count as part of the USA.
Steve moved to Sawbridgeworth in 2005, to be closer to her family, and continued her travels even after she had swapped her two arthritic knees for metal replacements at the age of 82. In her latter years she restricted her travels to cruises and it often seemed that the cruise ship itself, with its captive cross section of humanity, had become the major attraction for study.
Along with her lifelong interest in the world and the people who inhabited it, she and George had a strong belief in education in its broadest sense. The encouragement and support which Steve gave to her children’s education continued with her support and interest in her grandchildren and their education.
Steve’s frustration with her increasing frailty and compromised mobility was palpable in her final years, yet she remained proudly independent, British and stoic to the last. The birth of her first Great Grandson on the 3rd of August this year was a landmark and a summer barbeque where Steve met Elias for the first time was a happy and memorable time. We will all miss Steve/Stephanie and remember her with fondness and thanks for all that she did in this world.
Registered Number 225971