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Christel Johanna Roth (1932-2017)                                                       

Second wife of Henry Austin Lane - Generation 1


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Christel was the first of two children born to her parents in Essen near Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. From 1939, when she was 7 years old, her father was the Chief Chemist at the ‘Höesch-Benzin’ plant in Dortmund. This was the largest synthetic oil refinery in Germany. As well as having a brilliant mind, her gallant father was decorated as a military hero in World War I (1914-1918), and again as a civilian hero in World War II (1939-1945). Her mother was a strong, determined lady who is best remembered for being a talented dress designer and seamstress.


Christel loved and greatly admired both of her parents, and until the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945), had a fairly privileged childhood living at Kirchderner Strasse 78, Dortmund. Following her father’s death in 1944 (aged 47 years), she (aged 12 years), her mother (aged 43 years) and her brother (aged 9 years) were evicted from the apartment to which her father had been entitled as part of his employment package, and hitched a ride on a coal train to Fredeburg, Schmallenburg, Sauerland, North Rhine-Westphalia. This became the place Christel most thought of as home.


Living in Germany between 1944 and 1950, was life-changing for Christel as her family struggled to survive in a defeated, war-torn country without readily available food, clothes and shelter. In order to obtain food for her family, Christel spent her teenage years working on a farm in Fleckenberg, Sauerland, North-Rhine Westphalia. During her time on this farm, Christel shared the rotation of chores with two other girls: 1 week working in the house; 1 week working in the kitchen; and 1 week working in the garden with the added responsibility of looking after the hens and goats. The hardship of these years, stayed with Christel as she continued living thriftily and making the most of the great outdoors.


While working at the Balmer Lawn Hotel, New Forest, Hampshire, England, Christel first met Henry Austin Lane on a night out at the local ‘Cat and Fiddle’ public house. At the end of the evening, Henry and his friend (in a car), escorted Christel and her friend (on a scooter), home through thick fog. After a whirlwind romance, Christel married Henry at the Morpeth Register Office, Northumberland, England, so that she could stay with him after her visa expired. Her dream of having a white wedding was realised 6 months later when she and Henry were married for a second time at the Evangelical Parish Church, Gleidorf, Sauerland, North Rhine-Westphalia.


For the first 5 years of her marriage Henry worked away from home for much of the time, and Christel almost single-handedly raised three toddlers in a static caravan with limited amenities, and without a telephone or car for emergencies. In later life, she was afflicted with breast cancer, and four times her ‘will of steel’ forced the illness into remission.


Henry and Christel built a comfortable home together, and travelled extensively during their 47-year marriage. Henry had a debilitating stroke, which made every day extremely difficult for the last 6 years of his life. It was Christel’s loyalty and solicitousness, that prevented him from ending his days in a care home. Christel outlived Henry by 11 years, and is best remembered for never losing her German-ness, and for being loving, caring, determined, extremely ‘green fingered’ and a pioneer of recycling.


On the day Christel died with her children and grandchildren around her, the world lost a truly special and courageous lady who gave of herself without ever expecting anything in return.


Note: In keeping with National Genealogy Society guidelines, personal information about living ancestors has not been revealed on this website.

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