Gisela Ingrid Duell (née Wagner), born July 9th, 1938, passed away peacefully, awake, and surrounded by her children, on Monday, June 13th, 2022.
Gisela was born in Dortmund, Germany to Oscar Johannes (“Hans”) Wagner and Elise Flora (“Lissi”) Wagner. At the age 8 her family moved to Pakistan, where she spent her childhood and teen years before returning to Germany as a young woman. While visiting her family in Pakistan, she met an American soldier named Raymond Duell, and they eventually decided to marry and move to the United States, where she became a citizen in 1969. Gisela worked to put Raymond through Union College’s engineering program, and then became a housewife and mother. Her daughter Kirsten Denise was born in 1967, and her son Jason Clark in 1970. Raymond went into a career in the oil industry, which took the family to Libya (1976-1980), Nigeria (1980-82) and the Sultanate of Oman (1982-92).
Gisela decided to strike out on her own later in life. Her children grown, she and Raymond parted ways and she moved to Canada and then to the US. She worked as an office administrator, first for her dear friend from Pakistan, Toronto business empresario Peggy Dean, then later for the University of Arizona’s health services department. While in Tucson, Gisela took an active interest in the city’s arts scene, contributing for many years to the local Art Walk and other events. She was herself a sharp-eyed collector of art, with a wide-ranging collection of Mexican, Nigerian, Arabic, Indigenous, and other pieces.
Upon retiring, Gisela decided to be closer to family, and moved to Colorado to be near her daughter Kirsten. For many years she owned and maintained a stylish apartment full of her art collection in Littleton, Colorado. It was a fun gathering place for the friends she made – Jerri, Norm, Janine, and longest-term of all, Darlene. Throughout her later years her best friends and constant companions were her dogs, (Bella, Lucy, and finally, Charlie), to whom she was singularly devoted.
Gisela’s final years were centered around her struggle with Lewy-Body dementia. She moved in with Kirsten, and lived with her condition with dignity, much joy, and her personality recognizably intact even until the very end.
Gisela remained an avid reader and follower of the news even as her dementia deepened. In this past year she learned of Colorado’s new law permitting the composting of human remains, and made it very clear that this was her preferred way for after she left this life. We are honoring her wishes and were delighted with the ceremony we held on June 16th sending her off to become soil in the next 4-6 months. Lots of memories, mementos, and laughter were shared.
Long term plans for Gisela include becoming the soil for a pollinating flower garden in her daughter Kirsten’s front yard. She may also find some time to simultaneously sail around the world’s oceans with her son on a sailboat. Although it will be a treasure to keep her around in these ways, we will all very much miss having her in human form. She was so witty, kind, and beautiful.