Ernestina's Story

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Ernestina Maria Pfaffenzeller, R.N., 89, known simply as Erna, passed peacefully Sunday, March 4, 2012, as the Priest administered Last Rites. Services were Friday, at Christ the King Catholic Church. She was born in Bad Abbach, Germany, near Munich, Aug. 21, 1922. Between the years of 1936 to 1946, Erna was called to duty at the age of 14 to complete nurses training in Munich. During WWII, Erna spent time tending to babies, orphans and soldiers in Berlin, as well as Poland, France and Russia. On July 4, 1951, Erna arrived in Philadelphia, and was greeted with fireworks and parades, which she thought was America’s greeting for all new immigrants. She became a US citizen in 1954. She traveled to Lawton, and lived in a converted closet of the nurses’ quarters. She painted the dorms until she could learn enough English to prove her nursing skills. She lived and worked in Lawton at what has become Reynolds Army Community Hospital and eventually taught Nursing School there. In the 1970’s Erna left Ft. Sill and moved to Moore, to fill the post of Office Nurse for Jose Rosell, M.D. In 1983, Erna moved to Oklahoma City when Fr. James Mayfield became Pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church. She continued to commute to work daily between Oklahoma City and Moore until 1991. One sunny day in March 1991, a new mother approached neighbor Mary Ann Clark wondering, “who would keep the baby girl when maternity leave was over?” Mary Ann suggested Erna, who had just retired from nursing and might be interested in baby-sitting. When Erna held Kelley Hughes for the first time, it was love at first sight. For more than 20 years, Erna was a valued and honored member of the family, spending more than 40 hours each week loving and caring for Kelley, and her brothers Eric and Tom Hughes. The lessons of faith, love and peace which Erna shared with these children have formed who they are today, and what they will become tomorrow. She will be missed, but remembered fondly. Erna was preceded in death by her parents, Barbara and Franz Xaver Pfaffenzeller, and her sisters, Melitta Buchel and Betty Pfaffenzeller. She is survived by her sister Resi Hoenig of Regensburg, Germany; a brother-in-law Mattias Buchel; niece Melitta Buchel Scherl and her husband Josef and their children and grand children, Sylvia, Michael, Nina, Rafael, Raul, her nephew Gotti and his family as well as many loving nieces and nephews in Germany who will miss their Tante Erna.
Published on  March 14, 2012
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