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Eva Maria Christensen

Eva Maria Christensen
1917–2013

Eva Maria Christensen, 96, of Vero Beach, Florida, died peacefully on Friday September 13, 2013, at Consulate Health Care in Vero Beach.

She was born on March 21, 1917, in Berlin, Germany, during World War I, to Maria (Becher) Kremin and Dr. Gustav Kremin. In 1936, she married Dr. Victor Laskowski, a World War I veteran. She and her husband lived in Berlin until the closing days of World War II, when they fled west, ahead of advancing Russian troops. They made it to the Elbe River, where they lost each other while crossing under heavy fire. They found one another three months later. Shortly thereafter, their daughter Vivian was born.

After the war, they returned to the Potsdam-Babelsberg area near Berlin where Dr. Laskowski continued his medical practice. This area eventually became the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany and then the German Democratic Republic. Their home was located within yards of the Berlin border. Their second child, Ralph Victor (Peter), was born there in 1950.

The political unrest and turmoil during the early 1950s in East Germany made life very difficult. Eva and her son Peter managed to get out in 1955. They made it to a refugee camp in West Berlin and eventually to the home of her Uncle Otto Becher in Waitsfield, Vermont. Eva worked at her uncle's lodge, known as Beckridge, for one winter. Then, she went on a tour of the United States, before returning to Berlin.

For the next several years, Eva and her son alternately spent one year in the U.S. and one year in Europe, while attempting to get the rest of the family out of East Germany. During one attempted escape, Eva's daughter Vivian was arrested and confined to a re-education camp for several months. Eva's son Peter did manage to cross the border between east and west numerous times to smuggle out family papers and heirlooms. At one point Eva went back into East Germany disguised as a man in order to visit her home one more time. Finally, in 1960, Eva's husband, daughter and son found another way out across the border and escaped to the West.

The family resettled in Munich, but it was difficult with four people living in one room. So, Eva took her son with her and returned to the U.S. Peter went to live with the Gaylord family in Waitsfield, while Eva moved to New York City to find a job. Eva worked for several years in the city as a health and beauty consultant with Elizabeth Arden, while summering on Fire Island. Eva subsequently divorced Dr. Laskowski. She then married Richard Christensen, a businessman from Racine, Wisconsin.

Eva lived in Racine for the next 20 years and traveled frequently all over the globe. After the death of her husband, she relocated to Sebastian, Florida, and then Vero Beach, Florida. She also lived at Evergreen Place in Waitsfield during 2002 to 2003.

Survivors include her son, Peter Laskowski and his wife Blaine and their children, Dr. Kristina McElhinney and her husband Dr. Brian McElhinney, Alexander Laskovski, Nicholas Laskovski and Hadley Laskowski; and Eva's daughter's children, Albert and Alexandra Eckart of Connecticut. She is also survived by two great-grandchildren, Dylan and Nora McElhinney. Eva's daughter Vivian predeceased her earlier this year.

Funeral arrangements are by Strunk Funeral Home in Vero Beach. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service in Waitsfield.

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