Maria Theresia Wittmann Gebhards, 85, McCall, Idaho
Never one to waste time, on December 15, 2020 Maria found her way home to be with her husband Stacy and many beloved dogs Scooter, Panzer, Jake, Cody, Scruffy and Ursa.
Maria Theresia Wittmann Gebhards was born in Munich, Germany on November 14, 1935. She lived in a small apartment with her mother and 5 siblings. As a child during World War II, the family moved out of the city to a farm to get away from Allied bombing. During this time, she often had to be creative with finding entertainment -- bomb holes served as a veritable “swimming pool” after they filled up with water when it rained. Maria’s mother, who cooked for some US Army officers after the war, invited one young officer home for Christmas Dinner. It was at this dinner that Maria first met Stacy Gebhards. It was not long until she fell in love with Stacy. They married on October 22, 1955 in Germany.
Little did she know what she was getting into when they embarked to the United States. Maria first encountered the open starry skies as well as some freezing nights inside a canvas wall tent near Warm Lake, Idaho. Perhaps a bit more ‘rustic’ than what she was used to in Munich, she soon acclimated to life in Idaho where she and Stacy laid down their roots. They would live in Stanley, Salmon, Jerome, Boise, and retire in McCall.
Maria did not take long to master the English language, often making a point to correct her children’s grammatical errors (or anybody’s for that matter). She earned her degree in Nursing at Boise State University and worked for many years as a nurse in the cardiology unit at St. Luke’s Boise. She was well known as a fastidious worker and a tremendous leader. More importantly, her familiarity with hardship as a child translated into a persistent compassion and service for others. Maria advocated for and helped many people.
Maria always welcomed others into her home, and took pride in creating a safe haven for everyone. The Gebhards' home was often filled with fresh German cookies or Bavarian cake. On Christmas Eve, Maria would prepare large pots of clam chowder and hot spiced wine and would invite family and friends to stop by for some soup and wine to celebrate the evening. This tradition was one of many that she would share with her family and friends.
Maria traveled back to Germany many times over the years. She brought her kids along on several trips and several of her close friends from Idaho as well. She wanted others to experience her homeland in a personal setting. She liked to discuss philosophy, religion, and politics by the wood stove and enjoyed caring for her flower garden. Seeing the destruction of war as a child, she valued peace and understanding and was never afraid to stand up for what was right. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, as well as her many dogs that she took in from the shelter. Maria was well known at the Episcopal Church in McCall where she volunteered regularly. She spent many summers volunteering at Paradise Point summer camp, set up a children's summer reading camp, helped with getting a sponsorship for children to go to Paradise Point camps and many other activities to help people and bring the community together.
Maria is survived by her sister Ilse, daughters Barbara Michels (Bob), Sandra Gebhards, Judy Gebhards, and son John Gebhards (Suzanne), grandkids Bob, Matt, Cody, Laura, Erin, Kelsey, Thomas, and Nicholas, and great grandkids Claire and Arlo. She was preceded in her death by her parents, Stacy, her husband of 65 years, brothers Ernst, Otto and Heribert, sister Marianna and son Thomas Alvin Gebhards who died shortly after birth in Salmon, Idaho. A remembrance will be held sometime in the future when we can all get together. Maria requested that any donations be made to St. Andrews Episcopal Church in McCall, Idaho.
Online condolences may be left at www.mccallfunerals.com
Arrangements in care of McCall Funeral Home, McCall, Idaho.
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