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Obituary: Gaines, Johanna Gertrude

GAINES, Johanna Gertrude 09/30/1931 - 02/05/2013 Pictured here in her youthful fulsomeness. Johanna’s is a love story that spanned the years between WWII and the present. While in her latter years she suffered with Parkinson’s disease, she had a profound effect on all who knew her. She was gracious and kind, always deferring to the needs of others, never wanting to be a bother to anyone. In the end she wondered about the meaning of life. Such was her humility that she didn’t realize how she was teaching those who were her caregivers what it means to be caring. She taught her daughter and grandchildren lifelong lessons about love of family. She taught us to be steadfast and to have hope eternally. Her own family had suffered through the horrible occupation of Berlin by the Russian army, when bombs crashed and shattered buildings around them, ruining the great city in huge swaths. The occupying Russian soldiers were brutal and often forced the family into deep hiding. The population starved, as did her family. Noteworthy is the fact that the very first of the Allied forces to enter the city and liberate it from the Russians, marched on the street right past her building’s front door, down the block from the great, but devastated, Anhalter Bahnhof. In time she met an American soldier who became her great love. Their meeting at this dramatic time was fateful for the family, as he literally saved them from starvation. The two young lovers carved their initials into a tree which still stands on the Schlachtensee in Berlin. Her family continues to live in and around Berlin. She traveled with her husband to the United States in 1952 with their daughter, Anne’, first to Fort Benning, Georgia, then to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and back again to Germany in 1960. She lived frugally as the wife of an enlisted man. She sewed beautifully, gardened and held the home together when he was stationed in South Korea in the early 1950’s. Through the several moves she would see her hometown of Berlin for the last time in 1964. In 1964 the small family was transferred to Cheney, Washington, where he was the supply officer at the EWSC ROTC. When later in life she became grandmother to Daniel and Rachel, she found renewed purpose in helping raise them. Throughout her life she set an example of grace and dignity. Quiet by nature and deeply spiritual, she was always there for her family and never asked for anything for herself. She taught us much about kindness and the meaning of family. She is preceded in death by her husband, Vance D. Gaines, Jr. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Anne’ J. and Robert I. Handler, and her grandchildren Daniel I. R. Handler and Rachel D. R. Handler. Memorial service will be on Monday, February 11, 2013, at 10:00 AM at RIPLINGER FUNERAL HOME 4305 N Division Spokane, WA with burial following at Fairmount Memorial Park. Online guestbook at