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Wilde, Henry and Anita

by Anita Wilde

Henry (Heinz) Wilde was born at Prague, in what is now the Czech Republic on November 11, 1927, to Friedrich M. Wilde (brother of Johanna Elenore Jensen, later of Juneau) and Marta (Kohn) Wilde. His father had been born in Leipzig, Germany, and his mother had come to Prague from Vienna, Austria, as a little girl, to live with her grandparents. She was the niece of Berthold Hatschek, a well known scientist who was professor of zoology at Charles University in Prague and later at Vienna. Marta’s cousin was the famous writer and war correspondent (WWI and Spanish civil war) Egon Erwin Kisch, who had been born in Prague, where he made his home during the golden years between the two world wars.

Henry attended German schools in Prague, but sometime after the Nazi invasion, was kicked out of high school since his mother had a Jewish background. Only the fact that father Friedrich was a decorated German World War I veteran, and worked in an essential industry during 1941-45, later saved the family from the Holocaust. All of Henry’s maternal relatives, save one, died at Auschwitz or Treblinka. His cousin, Kurt Lanskroner, managed to escape to England shortly after the Nazi occupation and came back to Prague as a British tank officer in the Czech Legion. At the age of 16, seeing the hopelessness of life in German occupied Prague, Henry and an older Czech neighbor, who had escaped from a German labor camp, attempted to cross into the Tatra Mountains on the Slovak border in order to join resistance groups operating there. They were captured
by the railway police and Henry ended up first at the Gestapo jail (Pankraz) in Prague, the small Fortress Prison at Teresienstadt where he shared a cell with such notables as Dr. Krofta, the former Czechoslovak foreign minister, and several professors from Prague University. His last stop of one year of prison camp life was Bergen Belsen concentration camp near Hannover, Germany. There he was liberated by British forces, hospitalized suffering from typhus and transferred to Sweden by the Swedish Red Cross. At the request of the Terezin Fortress (former Gestapo prison) Memorial Archives, in 1997, Henry recorded the history of the Wilde-Landskroner-Kohn family and his own experiences during the war.

In Sweden, he was able to join his mother’s sister Margarete and her Austrian newspaper editor husband, Richard Neumann, who had found refuge in Stockholm during the war. As there was no news from the continent or his parents, he gladly accepted Johanna and Gudmund Jensen’s invitation to come to Alaska. Governor Ernest Gruening cut through all the usual paperwork and Henry was on the next boat to New York within weeks after hearing from the Jensens.

The Alaska Steamship which took Henry from Seattle to Juneau in June, 1946, was the same one on which William (Bill) Winn returned from an art buying trip to England. During the four day trip, Bill briefed him on Juneau history and lifestyles and became his mentor and friend for the rest of his life. Gudmund Jensen was still in his prime years and Henry started life at Juneau by doing assessment work with Gudmund at Windham Bay, living on the beach, fishing and eating beans out of a can, as well as the occasional pie from Jack Price’s wife, the only residents in the bay. Henry soon fully recovered his health and decided to blank out all the misery that had passed.

School started in Juneau that same fall. With a very spotty prior education due to the war, there was need to make up. Henry (Hank) Harmon, Leslie B. Avrit, A.B. Phillips and Gil Eide became mentors and so did many of his fellow students, as well as Zach Gordon, then president of the Teen Age Club. Special friends were Mary Lou Fagerson (Spartz), Dale Roff, Jack O’Connor and his sister Edna, Lily Ann Maursted (Gregg), Jean Butts and Bob Howel. During the Viet Nam War period, Henry’s path crossed again with Edna O’Connor, who was then stationed in Bangkok with UN-FAP.

It was time to go off to university the following year, starting at Fairbanks in 1947, and eleven years later finishing up at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Anita Guetschow was married to Henry in the fall of 1953, at Freiburg, Germany. After Edmonton, Henry and his bride came back to Juneau in the summer of 1958, where he practiced medicine with the Juneau Clinic, Drs. Whitehead, Carter, Blanton, Gibson and later Akiyama and Lesh, till 1965, when he was recruited into the US. Foreign Service. Two children, Pamela, born in Spokane, and Michael born at St. Ann’s Hospital, Juneau, had been added to the family.

Their first tour abroad was in West Africa from where, after two and a half years, the family was transferred to Thailand and attached to the U.S. Army Hospital in Bangkok where Henry served for the next eventful four years. Several Juneau residents came under his care or crossed paths with him there. Among them were Judge John Dimond’s sister Ann Reilly and Susan (Speer) Winchell. Juneau’s one time police chief “Swede” Severson, who served with US-AID as a police advisor at a South Vietnamese prison near Saigon, also appeared in Bangkok often. Sister Maria Therese Dimond, a nun and professor of biology at Trinity College, Washington, DC, and the other sister of John Dimond, was also a frequent visitor in Bangkok.

The Wildes maintain two homes, one in Bangkok and the other in Juneau, spending summers (May -
September) at their house at Brotherhood Park on the Glacier Highway, the site of the former Glacier Dairy started by Frank Maier and operated for a time by the Wilde and Gibson families. Both of the Wilde children have settled in Alaska, Pamela as a faculty member of the University of Alaska, Anchorage and Michael, working for the State, at Juneau.

by Henry Wilde

Anita Maria Guetschow was born at Hamburg, Germany, as the first of three children of Judge Oswald Guetschow and his wife Edith (Stuhlmann) Guetschow on July 12, 1926. It was an uneventful childhood with a doting father and loving uncles, aunts and grandparents, members of Hamburg’s patrician families with an old house “an der Alster,” a small river which forms a large lake in downtown Hamburg. The early Nazi years put pressures on primary, middle and high school students who were forced to join the uniformed Hitler Youth organizations. The times were equally distressing for father Oswald who was a judge on the Hamburg courts and who managed to get transferred to head the juvenile court so as to limit his exposure to Gestapo business and Nazi party officialdom.

WW II started when Anita was 13 years old and by the time she turned 16, Hamburg was in flames, having been bombed heavily by the Allies. Many friends and families lost their lives and many more their houses and earthly possessions. As in all wars, the poor and middle class suffered the most. School attendance was sporadic and food and clothing were scarce. During those years, most female students volunteered to care for wounded civilians which became Anita’s introduction to nursing. After graduating from high school in spring of 1945, Anita was admitted to Nursing School of the Pediatric Clinic at the University Hospital (Eppendorf) of Hamburg.

Anita graduated in 1947, as a pediatric nurse and worked for a general practitioner in the partly destroyed harbor district. There she made house calls and tended to mostly very poor and unfortunate patients. In 1953, she received her diploma in general nursing from the University of Freiburg where she met and married Henry Wilde. Together they returned to America. Their daughter, Pamela Anita, was born in Spokane, Washington, on May 2, 1955, while both parents were employed by Sacred Heart Hospital. They moved to Ottawa, Canada, in 1955, for a year and on to the University of Alberta, Edmonton in 1956. There Anita worked as the first heart-lung pump technician for the cardio-vascular surgeon (John Callaghan) during the first open heart bypasses in Canada. In 1958, they moved to Juneau where Henry entered private practice at the Juneau Clinic and where their second child, Michael Henry, was born at St. Ann’s, with Dr. Bill Whitehead attending.

The children had a busy and happy childhood. Both attended Jane Stewart’s popular pre-kindergarten classes at different years and loved her crafts and music instructions. Just as Mrs. Gudmund Jensen had invited her nephew Henry to come to Alaska in 1946, Anita invited her 19 year old brother, Bernd Guetschow, to visit them in Juneau in 1962. He never left and is now a prominent attorney at Anchorage with a wife, Paula, Professor of English at UAA, and two Alaska born daughters. He also became the honorary German consul for Alaska.

In the early 60’s, Christmas vacations were spent in sunnier and warmer climates and Henry actively looked for a two year hiatus from the north country. The telephone rang virtually every night. He was inducted into the U.S. Diplomatic Service in 1965, and the family was on duty overseas for the next 22 years. The children attended American Schools abroad in Conakry, Guinea, Bangkok, Thailand and Beirut, Lebanon, but the family returned for a two month home leave at Juneau every two years and at times, for a shorter visit yearly.

The old Wilde residence in Juneau (Judge Alexander’s house on Telephone Hill) had been sold to Robert and Betty Annis in 1965, and later acquired by the State and torn down for a grandiose state office building that never came about. There was need for a new home for the Wildes in anticipation of retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service. Anita, in 1978/79, came home for one year and developed the Wildmeadow subdivision on the old Glacier Dairy property on the Mendenhall River. Thus, Wildmeadow Lane came to be the location of the present home of Henry and Anita Wilde, and also a different structure as the home of Michael Wilde, their son. Part of their Glacier Dairy land was sold to the City and Borough of Juneau, using federal funds and thus became the present Brotherhood Park, a nature preserve. Henry retired from the U.S. Government in 1984, and 3120 Wildmeadow Lane became the principal home of the Wildes.

Anita has been active in Juneau since retirement as manager of the Wildmeadow Office Building, serving yearly on the election board for the city and state, and occasionally helps with art classes at the Auke Bay school. She grows orchids with friends and together they formed the Juneau Orchid Club. Every summer friends from far-off places turn up in Juneau and look forward to being taken fishing on the Wilde’s motor boat The Landlady. Alaskans, in turn appear at their doorstep in Bangkok during the winter where they spend September to May of every year.

Anita and Henry Wilde, Young American Diplomata in Asia, about 1969.

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