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Margarethe Riesinger, 99, Woodstock

Margarethe “Margaret” Riesinger, 99, Woodstock, died Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.

She was born Oct. 6, 1916, to Johann and Christine (Jung) Mussar, in Tchestereg, Austria-Hungary, a predominately German village in what is present-day Serbia. 

In 1933, she married Wilhelm Riesinger, and they had two children, Wilhelm and Susanna. Wilhelm was a tailor, but like most people in the region, they were subsistence farmers who grew crops and livestock for their use, and sold some for cash. The village did not have electricity, running water, or gas, which meant daily life was very labor intensive. They carried water from the town well, cooked and baked using a fire they made themselves, worked in the fields by hand, milked their cow, had horses with a wagon, sewed their own clothes and much more.

In 1945, Tito, the ruler of Yugoslavia, cleared the German speaking people from the region and put them into concentration camps. Margaret was sent to Crimea to work in the coal mines. Her children were sent to state-run children’s homes in the south of Yugoslavia (present-day Macedonia). Margaret never saw her husband again and never knew of his fate.

In 1949 she was released from Crimea and went to Austria where her sister and family were living. She got a job as a cook/maid and begin trying to locate her children, who she had not seen or heard from in five years. Once found, Willie and Susie came to live in Austria and

attended school, relearning German, while Margaret worked to save money for the trip to America.

In 1951, Margaret, Willie and Susie came to Chicago to begin a new life.  At first they lived in a very basic cold-water flat in Old Town. Margaret found a job at the Stewart Warner factory, where she worked for 26 years. Willie and Susie attended school and learned English.

In 1979 Margaret retired and moved to Woodstock to be closer to her daughter, Susanna Zachari, and her family. She lived in the same house on Madison Street for 36 years, until her death. She was a wonderful cook and made traditional German dinners every Sunday for her family.  She was also an excellent baker and was known for her flourless hazelnut chocolate “Nuss Torte.” She also loved gardening and flowers.

The tenacity and determination which saved her throughout her life was also apparent in later years, as she fought her way back from three major health crises after age 75: Guillaume Barret, hip-replacement and open-heart surgery.

The family would like to thank the ladies at the Hairitage 119 Salon, where she  went every Friday morning for 35 years;  the staff at Jewel and Osco who always made her feel special on her weekly shopping trips; and her neighbors, the Fawkes family, who looked after Margaret as their own family for over 25 years.

Survivors include three grandchildren, Matt W. Zachari, Maria Zachari and Susanna (Tina) Zachari; and a great-granddaughter, Sofia Zachari, as well as many loving nieces, nephews and cousins in the United States and Germany.

She was preceded in death by her husband; two children, Wilhelm and Susanna; a sister, Katherina; and a brother, Johann. 

Visitation was Oct. 30 at the Schneider-Leucht-Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, and the funeral Mass was Oct. 31  at St. Mary Catholic Church, 312 Lincoln Avenue, Woodstock.  Interment was in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Woodstock.


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