Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We lost Marianne

As I mentioned in the Switzerland post, Marianne Keller-Kolliker was an important part of the Florida Leutholds for the past 39 years.

My parents found Marianne and her husband Heini in 1979.  They became fast friends, traveling back and forth from Florida to Switzerland many times to visit.

I visited with her in 1981 with my friend Mike, 1987 with Sarah, 2007 with Sam and Sarah, 2016 with Kylie and with Sarah this year.

This visit was perfect, right up until the last night.

We spent the first three nights with Marianne in the wonderful lakefront house, Loogarten.  Then Sarah and I drove to Thun to spend two nights with Ruedi and Regula (Marianne's niece).  There we spent one day seeing Thun and Bern, the next on their boat in Lake Thun.

On Saturday, we drove back to Oberrieden talking about what a perfect visit we had, seeing Marianne, Cristof (Marianne's nephew) and his wife Justin.  That day we spent much time with their son Valentin, visiting Chaserrugg, a mountaintop nearby.  The time with Ruedi, Regula and three of their four grown children was very special.

When we arrived at Loogarten, ringing the doorbell got no response.  Sarah and I looked around the yard and the adjacent garden.  No Marianne.  Sarah noticed the doors were open on the second floor balcony.  I told her that we should find a ladder and she said one was on the side of the house.  We got it and I climbed up and let myself in.  After looking around I found her unresponsive on her bed.  We called the Swiss equivalent of 911 and the emergency crew arrived within minutes. 

They took her to University Hospital in Zurich.  I followed thirty minutes later but was told in the emergency room that I couldn't see her, offer advice or be told anything.  That was reserved for close family. 

Sarah later heard from a neighbor from Marianne's house in Muttenz that she had a cerebral hemorrhage and her chances of survival were very low.  She passed on Tuesday morning.

Needless to say, it was a shock to us and everyone.  We considered staying, delaying the ride in Spain, but because we couldn't contribute much, chose to move on. 

Marianne was the perfect host.  She opened her house to everyone in the family over the years.  We all visited around 2016, Scott, Lisa and the girls, David, Dee, Liz and the boys.  We heard stories from Marianne of those visits.  She so enjoyed seeing everyone.

While there she would prepare breakfast and dinner every day.  We usually traveled in our rental car during the day and would pick up lunch on the road.

She was Switzerland to me, and Switzerland is such a special place.  She was such a close part of the family that it hurts even more.

That was so evident when Sarah and I awakened Sunday morning and she wasn't there.  The warmth of Loogarten had vanished.  It was just a house that morning. 

My life will never be the same.

At the last dinner we had with Marianne.  
She prepared everything, as usual, and invited Cristof and Justine to eat with us.

Marianne and Heini.  Probably on the first visit my parents had with them in 1979

Probably 1979, Marianne, Dad and Mom on a mountain hike

Marianne and Sam at the cemetery 

Sam, Sarah and Marianne

At a regular visit to the Lindt factory, just five kilometers from Loogarten.

Marianne and Sam at the cemetery in back of the church in Oberrieden.

With Sam on a mountain top.

Marianne prepared lunch and invited many of the relatives
to visit while we were there with Sam in 2007.

We all ate in the back yard at Loogarten.

With me at the overlook during the visit with Sam.

With Sam in 2007.

With her brother Armen at his vinyard.

Talking in the kitchen at Loogarten.

At the Rheinfall with Cristof and Justine.

With Regula at their mountain house.

Marianne would come everywhere with us.  She was a trooper.

Kylie and Marianne at Rigi.

At the overlook in Oberrieden.
We would go to this place on every visit.

In the sunroom at Loogarten, where we would have drinks and snacks before dinner.

Sarah and Marianne in the kitchen at Loogarten.

She picked out a route to take us over the Klausenstrasse.
We had lunch at a mountain hotel.

Sarah and Marianne on the porch.

With Valentin on the porch at Loogarten.

The last photo I have of Marianne.
The sun was down and the light low.
I saw a photo and took the blurry shot.
Little did I know it would be the end

Monday, September 24, 2018


I have traveled to Switzerland five times since 1981.

Sarah and I went back three weeks ago to visit Marianne and the other relatives who have become family to the Florida Leutholds.

This visit was spectacular.

We flew into Zurich, rented a car and drove to Oberrieden to the lakefront house called Loogarten. 

This house was the home to three women, all Leutholds, when I visited there with my friend Mike in 1981.  The three were all in their 80's and 90's then.  They were Elizabeth, Lydia and Johanna.  Lydia was the mother of Heini, who my mother found in the late 1970's.  Heini and his wife Marianne became fast friends.  They would trade visits every year for the next twenty or so with Heini and Marianne coming to visit Florida every other year and my parents going to Switzerland on the off years.

Through them, we met other relatives and are staying in touch, visiting with Ruedi and Regula in Thun this time and having Cristof and Justine visit while we were in Oberrieden.  Sarah and I traveled with their son Valentin on one of the days too.

Switzerland is the most beautiful country I have visited.  The natural scenery is unmatched with the lakes, farms, meadows and alps sometimes all in the same view.  The small towns are lovely and Zurich, Bern, Thun and Basel all being filled with people working, shopping and visiting.

I could easily live there.

From the cog train heading to the top of Chaserrugg.

Sarah and Valentin at Chaserrugg

More views from Chaserrugg. 

Sarah and me with Bern behind.

Distant cousins Ruedi and Regula on the tour of Bern.

Scenic stop between Thun and Bern.

View from the top at Chaserrugg.  Walensee is the lake below.

Dining with Cristof, Marianne, Justine and Sarah on the balcony
of Loogarten, overlooking Lake Zurich 

Lake Thun

Paddle wheeler on Lake Thun from Ruedi's boat.