Germanic Genealogy Society

Gone But Not Forgotten

The following are a few of the people who made a difference in our society. Each one held a past leadership role and helped us become who we are today. If you know of others who aren't listed here and should be, please let us know at


Remembering Ed Brandt - January 17, 2013

By Mary Bellingham, Kermit Frye and Kent Cutkomp

We, at Germanic Genealogy Society, were saddened to learn that Edward R. Brandt, age 81, of Minneapolis passed away on January 17, 2013. There was a memorial service held for him on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11 AM at the German-American Institute in St. Paul.

Ed Brandt was a member of GGS for over 30 years and co-author of Germanic Genealogy. He served as GGS vice-president and volunteered in many ways for our society. As a speaker and writer, he shared his great knowledge of Germanic genealogy with our members and wrote a large number of articles for the Germanic Genealogy Journal. He will be greatly, greatly missed.

Let us describe the ways that Ed will be missed by the Germanic Genealogy Society.

Our group was formed as the "German Interest Group" in January of 1980. By September, we could see the need to form Bylaws. This was the first meeting Ed attended and he contributed to the effort.

From 1980, we needed a place to house our library books and materials, and a place that would allow our members to work there. We were hoping an existing library would accept our collection and allow us space to expand.

Ed was GGS Vice President in 1984, when his work took him abroad. Before he left, he suggested that Mary contact the Concordia College librarian, Dr. Glenn Offerman, as they might be open to housing our growing collection. Because the college had German Lutheran affiliation, our society fit their criteria and by August, 1984 a working agreement was formed. We moved in and are still located there.

In the beginning our genealogy membership was mostly concerned with where in Germany their ancestors were located, but as we found out, not all Germans came from what is now Germany. We realized that a written guide was needed to help our members get started researching their Germanic ancestors. First was a 45 page paper, which later evolved into several spiral bound books, Beginning Research in Germany; later we published: Research Guide to German-American Genealogy. By 1992, Ed persuaded us that the group needed to change its focus and go worldwide. The "German Interest Group" (GIG) was re-named "Germanic Genealogy Society" with an overall interest of locating Germanic ancestors wherever in the world they moved. Our latest book (with 658 pages), Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns, 3rd edition by 6 co-authors, was greatly expanded with extensive writing and research by Ed. This edition was a several year project and its proceeds fund the GGS Library.

During Ed's travels, he collected extensive research information and acquired many contacts worldwide to aid our members looking for their ancestry. He has shared his experiences writing articles and book reviews for our newsletters and quarterly, the Journal. He was a speaker at meetings; he provided translation for help and hire. As a member of the Library Committee, he evaluated and recommended excellent books for our organization to purchase for the library.

He became a leading authority on Germanic genealogy, authoring several books that presented ground breaking research. These books included:

Where to Look for Hard-to-Find German-Speaking Ancestors in Eastern Europe (Co-authored with his son Bruce Brandt)

Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia (Ost- und Westpreussen): Records, Sources, Publications & Events (Co-authored with Adalbert Goertz)

As a specialist in deciphering the Gothic script used in old documents, he was able to research original historical records in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, France, and Poland. As a member and co-founder of the FEEFHS organization (Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies) which is an umbrella organization of other groups, he kept GGS in touch with other societies in the world.

Outside the genealogy world, Ed was a very accomplished person. Ed was born to a Mennonite family in southwestern Kansas during the Dust Bowl, although he was raised near the small farming town of Steinbach, Manitoba. He was the first in his community to graduate from college; he would later earn an MA and a PhD. In 1958 he began a 10-year career as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Information Agency (which was part of the State Department). Ed served two terms in the Minnesota State legislature as a representative from Minneapolis. Ed earned a PhD in Political Science and taught at the university level for 20 years. He was also very active in a poetry society.

Ruth Mammenga - June 5, 2013

The following obituary ran in the St. Paul Pioneer Press from June 9 to June 12, 2013:
Ruth Mammenga, of St. Paul, MN, age 81, born May 5, 1932 in Osceola, WI passed away June 5, 2013, under Hospice care at the nursing home in North Branch, MN.
Ruth is preceded in death by parents Richard and Mary Sampe; sister, Harriet (Julian), Dorothy Sampe, died at birth, and brother; Kenny (Buddy) Sampe, died in childhood. Survived by: Two daughters, Melora (Martin) Lee, Sharon (Dan) Sculley, three grandsons; Kevin Sculley, Chester Lee, Kenneth Lee, three granddaughters; Jessica (Ryan) Griffin, Abbey Sculley, Sarah Sculley, and two great grandsons; Tyler and Mason Griffin, niece; Judy Julian, nephew; Richard Julian. Ruth retired from teaching school at Robbinsdale High School. Literacy and English grammar were her passions in education that started as early as teaching U.S. military draftees in France with her husband, Gene Mammenga, serving in the U.S. Army at the time. Ruth was an avid member of the Bead and Button Societies, and a co-founder of the Pommern Regional Group of Minnesota. Ruth loved growing flowers in her many gardens. Her past times were antique and estate sales, book stores, photography, travel and the fur trappers rendezvous. She enjoyed time with family and friends she always had a game or project along. In lieu of any memorial gifts, please consider a community literacy effort or the Alzheimer's Association.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday June 15th, 2013 aboard the riverboat "Queen," in Taylors Falls, MN.
Service will be from 5:30 to 6:30 PM and then a cruise down the river from 6:30 to 8:30. Come and enjoy the celebration of Ruth's life with music, food, drinks and conversations. [this was followed by directions to Taylors Falls]

Marcia S. Paulsen - November 3, 2013

Marcia Paulsen passed away on November 3, 2013. Marcia was a charter member of German Interest Group (GIG). She was the first secretary-treasurer, chair of the membership committee and in 1982 third president of Germanic Genealogy Society (then German Interest Group). Marcia was born March 1, 1945 to Robert and Norma (Ling) Paulsen in Minneapolis. In 1948 she moved with her parents to Round Lake, MN where she grew up and graduated from high school.
Marcia led a very active life and was a leader in many organizations (Wright County Historical Society, GGS, Minnesota Genealogical Society, Buffalo city council and planning and zoning committee, Buffalo Federation of Teachers). Marcia was a librarian (media specialist) for Buffalo Jr. and Sr. High Schools. She wrote at least five genealogical or historical books. In addition to researching and writing her own family history book, she also wrote the history of Round Lake, MN and the history of Buffalo, MN. She was a good friend and pleasure to be with. She will be greatly missed.
Her publications:

A Railroad Station Became a Town: a Centennial History of the Round Lake and Indian Lake Community, 1882-1982. Marcia Paulsen and LeAnne Meyer, 1982.

Finnern, Schoenfeld Family History. Marcia Paulsen, 1984.

Buffalo: From Trading Post to Star City – A Centennial History of Buffalo 1850-1987. Marcia Paulsen, 1987.

Obituaries from Buffalo Journal, Wright County Journal Press. Marcia Paulsen, 1988.

Marriage Records 1856-1885, Wright Co., MN. Diane Hanson and Marcia Paulsen

Posted by Marcia Paulsen on Wright County, MN USGENWEB site:

Index of Newspaper obits Buffalo Journal (1889-1929) and Wright County Journal Press (1929-1945).

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George E. Mellon - June 16, 2013

Mellon, George E. age 87, of Apple Valley, passed away peacefully on June 16, 2013. He is preceded in death by his parents. George is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Deloris; his 7 children, Kathy (Tym) Shaw, Mary (John) Lynch, Kevin (Rita) Mellon, Laurie (Corky) Schuur, Nancy Mellon, Barbara (Dan) Beeson, Peigi (John) Enzler; 15 grandchildren, Ramala, Jena, Sean, John, Drew, Kelly, Nick, Chris, Jennie, Charlot, Sam, Greyson, Molly, Anna, and Jacob; 3 great-grandchildren, Jackson, Jacob and Connor; 2 brothers-in-law, George (Gilda) Zwack and Marvin Short; and many other family and friends. George's Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, June 20 at 11 AM at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 13900 Biscayne Ave., Rosemount, MN with his visitation Wednesday night from 5-8 PM at Henry W. Anderson Mortuary, 147th and Garrett Ave., Apple Valley and one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment in Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Memorials preferred to St. Joseph Building Fund or to the MN Genealogical Society.

George was the President of MGS in 1977- 1978.

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David E. Witheridge - December 20, 2008

David E. Witheridge  age 94, of Mpls, formerly of Saginaw, MI and Chicago, IL. Preceded in death by wife, Elizabeth; siblings, William, Louise Mark, and John. Survived by sons, James and partner David of 26 years, and Thomas and partner Mary; granddaughter, Rebecca; and many other family and friends. David was Executive Director of Greater Mpls Council of Churches for 28 years. Before moving to Mpls, he served as pastor in American Baptist Congregations in Chicago, and Marengo IL. His passions for many years were genealogical research and social justice issues. Memorials preferred to Grace Trinity Community Church or Greater Mpls Council of Churches. Memorial service at a later date.

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Robert "Bob" Wiese - February 25, 2006

Robert William Wiese, 78, of Eagan, died Feb. 25th, 2006. He was born Dec. 12th, 1927, in Rochester, MN, to Hugo H. and Hattie Bohn Wiese. He grew up in Slayton, MN, where he attended public school. He served in the U.S. Army before graduating from Macalester College. He taught school in Clara City, Lester Prairie, Morristown, and Worthington in MN and Rockford, IL before retiring July 1st, 1984. He married Helen Prieve Aug. 13th, 1955 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, MN. He was preceded in death by parents, Hugo and Hattie; and brother-in-law, Kenneth D. Anderson. He is survived by wife, Helen; sons, Brian of Eagan and Craig (Kimberly) of Eden Prairie; one granddaughter; and sister, Fay M. Anderson of Slayton, MN. Visitation and funeral services were March 2nd at Ebenezer Ridges Care Center in Burnsville. Arrangements were completed by White Funeral Home, Apple Valley.

[Bob was a past Treasurer of GGS]

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Kathleen Wright - May 20, 2011

Kathleen "Kathy" Ann (nee Winrich) Wright, age 61, of River Falls, WI, died suddenly, Friday, May 20, 2011 at the River Falls Area Hospital.
Kathy was born on May 26, 1949 in Eau Claire, the daughter of Elmer and Winifred Winrich. She married Larry Wright on June 21, 1969 in Eau Claire. She was a graduate of North High School.
Kathy enjoyed genealogy and history research, quilting, scrapbooking, visiting lighthouses, making and selling bracelets, making homemade bibs, participating in the Relay for Life, and spending time with grandkids.
She is survived by her husband Larry of River Falls. Three sons: Pat Wright, River Falls, WI; Ryan (Steph) Wright, Ellsworth, WI; Wayde (Bridget) Wright, Beldenville, WI. Five grandchildren: Dominic, McKenna, Landon, Parker, and Carson Wright. Brother Jim (Chris) Winrich, Eau Claire, WI. Sister Sally Bell, Eau Claire, WI. She is further survived by many nieces and nephews.
Her parents Elmer and Winifred Winrich and sister Mary Kragness preceded her in death.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 24th, at St. Bridget Catholic Church, River Falls. Fr. Gerald Harris will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. on Monday at the Cashman-Hill Funeral Home, River Falls and for one hour prior to the Mass at the church on Tuesday.

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Karen Whitmer - December 6, 2010

Whitmer, Karen B. Age 72 of Richfield, formerly Robbinsdale, MN. A connoisseur of good food, good wine, and good laughs. Dedicated to her family, she spent her life tracing the family genealogy and helping others worldwide trace theirs through her work with the Minnesota Genealogical Society and Luxembourg Connection.

Karen was a very active volunteer behind the scenes helping on the library committee and early version of our book Germanic Genealogy.

Fred Burke - June 12, 2001

Frederick Peter Burke was born October 3, 1925 in rural Spirit Lake, Iowa. He served in the US Army during WWII and then as a social worker at Hennepin County for 25 years. He was a great friend of the Germanic Genealogy Society and contributed much to its success. Fred was also a founder and an early leader of the Pommern Group and very active in GGS.

Idee Stenzel - September 2013

Stenzel, Idabel "Idee" M. age 85, of Plymouth. Survived by her husband of 60 years, Russell; children, Paul (Debbie), Marcia (Gene) Ruther, and Greg (Susanne); 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Preceded in death by parents, Frank and Mary Clasen; brothers, Fr. Leonard, Millard, Clement and Francis Clasen. Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday 10:00 AM at The Church of the Sacred Heart, 4050 Hubbard Ave. North, Robbinsdale. Visitation Tuesday 5-7:30 PM at Gearty-Delmore Robbinsdale Chapel, 3888 West Broadway, with a Rosary at 7:00 PM. Entombment Gethsemane Mausoleum. Gearty-Delmore 763-537-4511 Published in Star Tribune on September 16, 2013