Charlotte Hildegard Hartel Gower - age: 94
(July 24, 1920 to April 07, 2015
Charlotte's family wishes to wholeheartedly Thank the entire wonderful staff at the Pine Point Center in Scarborough for their kindness and compassionate care for our mother. Charlotte fell asleep under their exceptional care the 4th of April 2015.
Celebration of Life will take place at Dennett, Craig and Pate Funeral Home 365 Main Street Saco on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 11:00am. Friends and Family are all invited.
SACO-Charlotte Hildegard Hartel Gower was born in Breslau Schlesia, now called Wroclaw Poland, on the 24th of July 1920, to her parents Artur Richard Heinrich Haertel and Anna Pauline Emma Stiller-Haertel. As a young girl she remembers seeing a type of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus when those shows continued to tour Europe in the first part of the 1900's. Never dreaming at that time she would one day become an American citizen. That was only part of the beginning of a remarkable and historical life.
Before the onset of World War II her dream was to become a fashion designer. Setting dreams aside she worked sewing only the best uniforms for the war effort. She also worked at a hospital during the war and met a young amputee who had come back from the Russian Front. He told her about a town they should flee to should the Russians take over the city of Breslau. The Russians did take over the city but not until the infamous "Seige of Breslau" was over. Over 30 thousand german civilians froze or starved to death and over 70 thousand german soilders died in a 3 month long battle. During the coldest winters in a century, Charlotte and her mother and sister, Inge, escaped Breslau and fled to Dresden the "Fluechtlings Stadt" or "City of the Refugees". Leaving just before the city was bombed the 13th thru the 15th of February 1945 with over 7thousand pounds of phosphorous bombs. As refugees they traveled for sometimes days with only a single potato to eat. Seeing horrors she could only hint of in much later years.
Arriving in Gunzburg, in the German state of Bavaria, Charlotte and her mother and sister finally settled and made a home for themselves on the beautiful Markplatz. Near the end of the war when American troops took over the town, the soldiers jumped from their tanks right into the windows of their home. Their father had been taken as a prisoner of war in the British zone and their brother had been a prisoner of war in Russia for over two years. All were reunited in Gunzburg. Charlotte had two young sons and was working for the Americans in Leipheim when she and Donald James Gower met. She fell in love with the tall dark and handsome American soldier, and he with the beautiful german girl. They were married the 30th of August 1955. Beginning a faithful loving and incredible marriage that lasted over 60 years.
Charlotte was a beautiful lady and a wonderful homemaker. Taking great pride in her many homes (over 20 at our best count) while traveling with her military husband and family of five children. Their daughter Helen being born in Leipheim and twin daughters Donna and Ronna in Fort Carson Colorado. Back to Crailsheim Germany for a few years and then Fort Benning Georgia where their oldest son Gunter joined the military and was sent to Vietnam as a Marine and was wounded, earning the first purple heart and still completing his 365 day tour. Military orders back to Schweinfurt Germany where she was the Tours Historian for the NCO Wives. Taking so many other women to historical sites across Germany and translating for them. Schweinfurt is also where their next son Albert enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam and earned the second purple heart when he stepped on a mine and also completed his 365 day tour. While still stationed in Schweinfurt, Sgt. Donald Gower was given orders for Vietnam. He moved the very distraught Charlotte and girls back to Gorham Maine to be near his family should he not return home from Vietnam. Even shipping their pet guinea pig, Sammy, stateside. One of many pets she dearly loved and took great care of.
She endured 10 more months of worrying and wondering if the odds would no longer be in the familyís favor. The full extent and extreme danger her husband was in flying "loaches" ,and having already earned a purple heart for being shot in the shoulder, came to an end for Charlotte when Don was shot down for the fourth time. Earning the men in her family a total of four purple hearts.
When Don retired from the military he brought the family "home" to Old Orchard Beach Maine. Oh how she loved the "B-E-A-C-H". Not being able to say the word "beach" in front of her beloved black labrador Cindy, we all began spelling the words B-E-A-C-H and W-A-L-K...only to find we simply taught the dog how to spell!
Charlotte loved reading mysteries and history and enjoyed a wide range of music with German music always being her favorite. She was a German Club member for many years and was greatly loved by her friends there. She so loved flowers and her gardens with the smiling gnomes. She fed the birds AND the squirrels. Often telling stories about times on her Onkle Alfred and Tante Berta's farm that was behind the Iron Curtain. All the long walks they took and animals they raised. Helping to keep the rest of the family fed during the war years.
Being out in nature was one of her favorite places. Don and Charlotte often went camping over the years with many family and friends. Even going to Prentis when she was 92 years old and staying in their camper complete with all the comforts of a home. Her husband, Don always took care of her every need. Even remodeling the bathroom four times for her. And building another wonderful porch onto thier home in Saco when she so missed "her porch" from Old Orchard.
Charlotte loved sewing and produced many beautiful articles of embroidery and clothing especially for the holidays. If it weren't for the onset of World War II her life dream to be a fashion designer could have been realized. She loved family and friends and like a very good German she loved to Feed People! We were all happy recipients of her fantastic German meals.
She will be so very, very missed by so many people. Her wonderful neighbors, thank you for your many kindnesses, she loved you all.
In Germany, her sister Inge Kopp of Gunzburg, her brother Gunter's wife Anni Hartel of Kotz. Ursala and Helmut, Karen and Riccardo and Nadine, Gerhard, Gunter and Jutta and their sons. Her cousins in Horb am Neckar. Many relatives here in America, neices and nephews, and her husbandís cousins, she was always so grateful to those who accepted her so warmly into Don's family.
So sadly missed and dearly loved by her children; Gunter and Sherri Gower of Cape Elizabeth, Albert and Nancy Gower of Buxton, Helen and Chuck Herron of Lake Worth Florida, Donna and Gene Bahr of Sebago, Ronna and David Reamer of Bonita Springs Florida, Frank Kantor of Casco.
Her grandchildren; Josh and Kristen Gower, Deane and Jen Gower, Luke and Lori Gower, Jordan and Lindsey Gower, Anthony (Gower)Kantor. Her great grandchildren; Brianna, Jacob, Emily, Hannah, Connor, Cameron, Elliot.