Gerda Kathe Rusnak
February 26, 1928 – March 28, 2020
Gerda Käthe (Straube) Rusnak (92) of Overland Park, KS, died peacefully at home in The Atriums Senior Living Community on March 28.
Gerda was born on February 26, 1928 in Danzig, Germany (now Gdańsk, Poland).
In September 1945, she and her mother fled Danzig due to the city’s conquest by the Soviet Army. They spent several months in Berlin and then in Hamburg.
In June 1946, with the assistance of the German Red Cross, they moved inland to Ober Ramstadt and were eventually reunited with her father and her brothers. The family settled in Ober Ramstadt and in 1952 moved to nearby Darmstadt.
From 1949-1953, Gerda was a well-respected, bi-lingual telephone operator for the Signal Section of the Darmstadt Detachment Headquarters of the U.S. Army. In April 1950, Gerda met the love of her life, Richard Rusnak! He was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and had recently (January 1950) arrived in Darmstadt at the Quarter Master’s School. After three years of dating, Richard and Gerda were engaged. In May 1953, Richard returned to the U.S. In July 1953, Gerda went by train from Darmstadt to Bremerhaven, where she boarded the M.S. Columbia ship destined for Quebec, Canada. From Quebec, she traveled by train to Calgary, Alberta to the home of her brother, Paul and sister-in-law, Irmgard. Gerda and Richard were reunited in Calgary where they married on August 22, 1953. In December 1953, Gerda was cleared to leave Canada for the U.S. They headed to Kansas City, Richard’s hometown, where they would spend their 65 years of marriage.
Gerda was a dedicated Catholic, wife, mother and homemaker. She was a woman of love and respect, who always put family first. She loved her 5 daughters as well as her sons-in-law, 12 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. She was a mother figure to many beyond her immediate family. Nieces and nephews, neighbor kids, classmates, etc. Everyone loved Gerda.
She always showed up for kids’ sacraments, school events, graduations, sporting activities and holiday gatherings. She was a member of Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park, Kansas for over 50 years.
Gerda was sweet, kind and thoughtful. She never wanted to trouble or burden anyone. She would always listen and give unconditional support, no matter the circumstance. She was a quiet lady, but strong and special in so many ways. Her happy home was full of love and encouragement.
Gerda was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Rusnak; parents, August and Martha (Totzke) Straube; brothers and sisters-in-law, Paul and Irmgard Straube, Gerhard and Anita Straube; son-in-law, Dennis Bay.
Beloved survivors include: daughters: Linda White (Johnny), Nancy Bay, Kathe Rusnak, Julie Bolton (Mike), Susan Raimo (Mike); grandchildren: Melissa Collier (James), Eric White (Angie), Justin White, Kayla Smith (Nicole), Mark Hutcherson (Laurie), Jessica Hutcherson, Danielle Wagner (Brent), Becca Ciaffone (Chris), Alec Bolton, Marisa Hoefer (John), Nina Raimo, Nicholas Raimo; great-grandchildren: Max, Ella, Kenyon, Jada, Rayna, Hannah, Noah, Carter, Marin, Carson, Frankie.
A private graveside memorial will be held in the future at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Lenexa, KS.