Cover photo for Gisela Sweetman's Obituary
Gisela Sweetman Profile Photo
1936 Gisela 2018

Gisela Sweetman

August 4, 1936 — December 26, 2018

Gisela A. ("Gee") Sweetman left us on the evening of December 26, 2018.

She led a remarkable life. The third of four children of Dr. and Mrs. Hans Tetzel,

she was born in Teuchern, Saxe-Anhalt, Germany, on August 4, 1936. Her godfather

was HRH Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her husband nicknamed her "Gee"

(rhymes with "see"), by which she was called ever thereafter. A German proverb holds

that in Saxony pretty girls grow on trees. Gee, with her wonderful hazel eyes,

marvelous cheekbones, fresh complexion and exquisite figure, exemplified the adage.

Gee grew up during World War Two and retained vivid memories of the conflict.

Teuchern was never bombed, but the Tetzels spent some anxious nights in their shelter

and Gee remembered seeing the "Christmas tree" pyramids of flares used to mark

targets floating down over cities nearby. She also recalled taking refuge in a ditch when

a fighter strafed the road on which she was walking.

At war's end Teuchern was incorporated in the Soviet occupation zone. In the Cold

War that ensued, it lay behind the Iron Curtain, in the Communist dictatorship that

became East Germany. A natural athlete, in school Gee was a swimmer and long-distance

runner, but her father refused to let her attend meets in West Germany, fearing that once

out of East Germany she would never come back.

Given her love of children, it was natural that Gee would become a pediatrics nurse,

training at the Prof.-Dr. Josef Ibrahim Klinik in Dresden. Gee enjoyed nursing, but not

the regimented grey monotony of life in East Germany, and with her best friend, also a

nurse, planned to escape. Their cover story was that they were going to visit a mutual

friend who had just had a baby. To get to her, they would have to take a train through

Berlin. Although Berlin was deep inside East Germany, the Western powers occupied

part of the city. Escapees who reached the Western zone were safe. In Berlin the two

girls disregarded their official itinerary and slipped aboard a subway to West Berlin.

They had a serious scare when the East German police spot-checked the papers of the

passengers in the cars ahead of theirs. Their minds were finally set at ease when the

shrewd old lady who shared their compartment said, "You girls can relax now. We're in

West Berlin."

Free at last, Gee chose to work in London in order to improve her English. After

two years she grew homesick and returned to Germany. On learning that the U.S. Army

5th General Hospital at Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt was hiring German nurses she joined its

staff, mainly to be able to exercise her English. Her future husband, Jack Sweetman,

was a lieutenant stationed at the same installation. They met in the officers' club and

their fates were sealed. They were married in the post chapel.

Gee accompanied Jack when he returned to Orlando in 1965. She quickly adapted

to American life and became a proud citizen at the earliest opportunity. She raised no

objection when Jack left business to enter graduate school and loyally followed the

peripatetic course of his academic career to Annapolis, MD, where he taught naval and

military history at the US Naval Academy for twenty years. Although her tastes were

anything other than secretarial, she dutifully typed and retyped the drafts of his books.

A gentle, caring person, Gee was a model wife and mother. Much as she loved

keeping an attractive and hospitable home, however, she loved yard work even more.

And "work" is the word. Her activities far exceeded the limits of mere "gardening" to

climbing oaks and palms to cut off offending branches, which she rigged with lines to

fall exactly where she wanted. She also enjoyed running, cycling, salt-water fishing,

playing with dogs and driving her sportscar, a 1962 MGA 1600 Mk II. Her boundless

energy probably accounts for the ease with which she kept her girlish figure her life


In 2000 Gee and Jack returned to Orlando, settling in Rio Pinar. Gee's health, but

never her sweet smile, failed in recent years. She was predeceased by her older sisters

Carola and Renate and young brother Hans. In addition to her loving husband, she is

survived by a daughter Jeanne Jacqueline Rengstorf of Bonaire, GA. In accordance with Gee's

wishes, there will be no service. Her cremation was conducted by the Carey Hand Colonial Funeral

Home, 2811 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL 32806 407-898-2561

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gisela Sweetman, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 3

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree