It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that if ever there was an angel on this earth, it was my Grandma Emma. Emma Nathalia (Walz) Niesl was born to Fredrich and Sophia (Bischke) Walz on May 2, 1913. Both Fred and Sophie, along with their respective families, came to America, settling on the harsh plains of South Dakota, from the Steppes of southern Russia in the very early 1900’s. While they were from Russia, both families were of German descent, their families having been recruited from Germany to Russia in the early 19th Century to settle land newly conquered by Catherine the Great, herself of German descent.
Emma and her husband George “Dodge” Niesl had 4 children, 17 grandchildren, and countless great/ great great grandchildren. She had a way of making every one of us feel like we were her only grandchild. She sang, whistled, told jokes, showed us magic tricks, cooked, told stories, made clothes, and showed to each of us a love that made us feel very special.
Never, and I mean never, would you hear her criticize or pass judgement on anybody. It wasn’t in her make up. She led and influenced by example.
Some years ago, as Emma was in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s, my aunt Sandie (Niesl) Patten interviewed Emma. I recently had these videos digitally copied and have put them on Youtube in 10 minute segments. You can see Sandie nudging her along at times, trying to keep her on topic.
But in these videos, you can also see how special my Grandma Emma was. It’s my hope that even though she is no longer with us, my kids and my family can learn from her. She made the world a much better place.