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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Wilde, Anita Maria (Guetschow)

by Henry Wilde
UID=1029


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.