Obituary: Gisela Spielberg

Obituary: Gisela Spielberg

She escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, then came to America on the last refugee ship available.

Gisela “Gia” Diana Meyer Spielberg, 91, died Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

Survivors include her beloved children and their spouses, David and Jacqueline Spielberg, Josh and Nita Spielberg, Anne Spielberg and Tom Armstrong, and Debbie Spielberg and Tom Block; her adored grandchildren, Lela and Adam, Benjamin and Kate, Hannah, Michael, Adela, Michelle, Dalya, and Mollie; and her sister, Erica Rockstroh.

Born in Berlin, Gia escaped Nazi Germany in April 1939 at age 12 with her younger sister on the Kindertransport to England. She lived there until August 1940, when she was reunited with her parents, who separately escaped Germany, and her family emigrated to the United States on the last passenger ship allowed to cross the Atlantic during the war that was not sunk by the Germans. Shortly thereafter, her family settled in Atlanta, where her father started the Southern Metal Co. Gia attended Girls’ High School, then became the first in her family to attend college, with two years at Agnes Scott and then two years at the University of Iowa, where she completed her bachelor’s degree.

She married Sol Spielberg on Jan. 9, 1949, and they shared 63 years of marriage until his death in 2012. In 2014 she moved to Maryland to be closer to family. Gia became an amazing stay-at-home mom and volunteer extraordinaire after her husband established his CPA business. She lived a life full of kindness, activism and engagement, informed by her escape from Nazism and gratitude for the new life she found in America.

She was the president of the DeKalb County League of Women Voters, the vice president of the National Council of Jewish Women, an active member of Hadassah and the president of the Briarcliff High School PTA. She worked on multiple local political campaigns, served on the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals for 14 years, was an active board member of Partnership for Community Action for 13 years, and was a volunteer with the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. She spoke out for civil rights, campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment, worked to advance educational reforms and economic opportunity, and fought for sensible land use for neighborhoods.

A refugee herself, she was always welcoming to others, especially to those who may otherwise have been overlooked. She loved to travel and had a wealth of knowledge about world geography. She was an original environmentalist — forgoing a dryer, spearheading recycling drives, and never throwing anything away that might be repurposed or reused. She was a gracious host and fiercely loyal to family and friends. She reveled in being a grandmother: Her excitement to get to New Jersey quickly to help take care of her first grandchild earned her a speeding ticket in North Carolina, but it didn’t slow her down, and her enthusiasm for the next seven grandchildren never waned. She valued hard work and had a big heart, and she lived her long life with appreciation, resiliency and quiet strength.

Sign the online guestbook at Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Crest Lawn Memorial Park. Donations in her memory may be made to the Breman Museum and the League of Women Voters of Georgia Education Fund. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.

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