Elka I. Hinrichsen, 83, of West Suffield, died unexpectedly on Friday, February 9, after a brief stay at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.
Elka was the beloved wife of Eric N. Hinrichsen. Growing up as children in the same small town in Northern Germany, Elka and Eric fell in love and married in 1956, and have spent nearly 62 years together. Elka also leaves behind sorrowing children and grandchildren – her daughter Ruth Meyer, former son-in-law George Anastasio, and grandchildren Alexander Anastasio, Andrea Anastasio, and Sophie Anastasio; her daughter Katrin Hinrichsen, son-in-law Philip Dooley, and grandchildren Collin Dooley, Ian Dooley, and Shannon Dooley. Elka was a vital part of all of our lives, and we miss her terribly. We miss her kindness, her love of life, and her irreverent sense of humor.
Born in Kiel, Germany in 1934, Elka was the third daughter of Walther and Elsa Meyer. She was predeceased by two older brothers, Walther and Gerhard, who both died as very young men in World War II. She was also predeceased by two older sisters, Magdalene, who died in early childhood; and Lisa Godt, who passed just last year. Elka is survived by her loving younger sister, Karen Landmark. Karen and Elka remained close, despite the Atlantic Ocean between them, and they cheerfully shared a number of travel adventures in recent years. Elka is also survived by her sister in law, Anke Bergemann and her husband Asmus; as well as by numerous nieces and nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews in Germany. Many of the younger generation knew Elka well, both for her lively character, and for her generosity, and they join us in mourning her sudden loss.
Prior to moving to Connecticut in 2015, Elka and Eric lived for many years in Niskayuna (Schenectady), NY. Elka was a talented and hard-working amateur pianist, and for many years she was an integral part of the Schenectady Music Study Club, a group of amateur musicians who gather to rehearse and perform, for each other and for the public. She did everything from performing an entire Brandenburg Concerto, to baking cookies, organizing club programs, composing and arranging music, and serving repeatedly as a club officer. Her friends in the MSC join us in shock and sorrow at her passing.
In recent years, Elka greatly enjoyed her new home in Suffield. She loved being closer to her daughters, Katrin and Ruth, and loved seeing her grandchildren more often. She relished the adventure of furnishing a bare and empty house, and making it a place of comfort and beauty for Eric and herself. We could tell that Elka had great fun presiding over their new ‘Grand Central Station’ for family visits – hosting a grandson dropping by for breakfast, a granddaughter needing a place to stay during the holidays, or one of their own daughters stopping in for a lengthy late-night chat. Elka was a homemaker, in the best sense of the word.
Elka was a life-long gardener, and she enjoyed every minute of establishing a new garden at the house in Suffield, busily planting trees and shrubs and perennials, helping grandson Alex with the building of a backyard pond, and mowing her new (and still rather scruffy) lawn. In a small concession to her years, she was thinking of replacing her trusty walk-behind mower with a riding model… sometime soon. In the winter, she enjoyed running her snow blower when the Connecticut weather generously dumped a foot of snow in the driveway. Looking out at the wintry backyard in January, Elka was eagerly looking forward to spring planting in 2018.
During the past winter months, Elka was a frequent and enthusiastic visitor to grandson Alex’s new/old farmhouse. Dressed in her trademark well-worn work clothes, armed with a large bag of Paczkis for the workmen, and carrying a camera to document progress, Elka always looked forward to her weekly guided tours amidst sawdust and construction debris. She had a youthful enthusiasm for such things, and took such joy from being able to help her grandson with this project.
Wife, Mother, Oma, Aunt, friend, musician, lively adventurer at age 83 – Elka will be greatly missed, and long remembered.
By wishes of Elka and her husband, a simple cremation has taken place. The family will organize a public memorial service in the spring, details still to be determined. For online condolences please visit the website of the John F. Tierney Funeral Home in Manchester, CT.
Donations in Elka’s memory can be made to:
Doctors Without Borders USA http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5030
Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, Inc. http://www.irisct.org
235 Nicoll St., 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06511