Obituary: Herta Tschersich

Herta Tschersich

Herta Tschersich of Kodiak passed away peacefully on March 16, 2012, in Eugene, Ore., after a nearly six-year battle with colon cancer. Her husband, Dr. Hans Tschersich, and children Britta Fehst and Philip Tschersich surrounded her with love and support in her last weeks and days. She was also comforted by visits of longtime friends and by having many letters and emails read into her ear when her eye sight started to fail.

Herta was born to Alfred and Hildegard Haller in San Francisco, Calif., on May 25, 1939. She graduated from high school and college in San Francisco and earned her master’s degree from Middlebury College, Vt. She met her future husband Hans-Ulrich Tschersich at the Johannes-Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany, and she fell in love with him on a trip to Paris.

After teaching English and German in high schools in Germany and California, Herta and Hans got married in 1968. Their two children were born in Germany. As soon as the children could travel they left Germany so Hans could continue his medical studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. After four years the family moved to Eugene to be closer to Herta’s family in San Francisco and to enjoy the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest Hans became a partner radiologist at the Eugene Hospital and Clinic.

Herta raised her children in Eugene through the high school years and was engaged in their lives and education. She had a special understanding and love for each of her children and derived great joy from them.

In 1989, when the children went off to college, Hans and Herta moved to Kodiak, where Hans became the only radiologist at the Kodiak Island Hospital, now Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center. Herta immersed herself in the island community, becoming an avid supporter of the arts, public radio, parks, the library and the wider cultural community. The couple enjoyed traveling to off-the-beaten-path destinations, meeting people of new cultures, and learning their languages, arts and foods. She loved people and loved entertaining, and was known in Kodiak for her wonderful cooking and her hilarious white elephant parties around Christmas. She had a knack for befriending people of different backgrounds and cultures and developing meaningful relationships with many islanders.

She was deeply dedicated to her family and enjoyed spending time with them. One of her favorite traditions was spending the Christmas season with her family, including her parents, at her sister’s house on shores of Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Before her cancer took a drastic turn for the worse, she had enjoyed three weeks last Christmas and New Year’s at Tahoe with her family. During the last years, the advancing cancer and side effects from treatment with severe complications had taken a heavy toll, but Herta was determined to fight to the end and wrung joy and fulfillment out of every good minute she had.

Her family is grateful for the excellent medical care she received in Kodiak by Drs. Norkus, Robinson and Juergens and the loving attention and great care by the nurses and hospital staff of the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center. We acknowledge the expert medical care by Dr. Ed Lin and his staff at the Hutchinson Cancer Center and University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle and Dr. Jae Lee and staff of the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in conjunction with the compassionate care provided by the wonderful staff of the seventh floor of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Springfield-Eugene, Ore.

Herta will be remembered for her winning smile, her quick wit, her engagement in causes of fairness, understanding and tolerance, her deep commitment to her family and friends, her curiosity about the world, and her love of people and care for the natural environment.

Herta is survived by her husband of 44 years, Dr. Hans-Ulrich Tschersich, her children Britta Fehst of Edmonds, Wash., and Philip Tschersich (with wife Adelia Myrick and her family) of Kodiak, her sister Norma Parson and family of Tahoe City, Calif., and her sister-in-law Christine and other in-laws in Austria and Germany.

Herta’s body has been donated to medical research for the benefit of others ( and in a few months her ashes will be scattered at sea in an area which she had selected, close to her northern home around Kodiak.

Any gifts or donations in her name should be directed to some of her favorite charities and educational organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Doctors Without Borders, Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity, Kodiak Public Library Association, Brother Francis Shelter or your public broadcasting station KMXT and Alaska Public Television.

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