Ilse Wiszniak Marcks, 90, died early the morning of Sunday May 29th at Houston Hospice. Ilse was born in Vienna, Austria on February 27, 1927. In 1938, at age 11, she escaped through mountains of Austria along with her mother Elvira and father Hersch Wiszniak. They were approached by a Nazi soldier and asked if they were Jewish. At the time, he let them go due to Ilse’s blond hair. Perhaps he felt sorry for the young girl. They made it to a boat and passage to Shanghai, China.
As a young girl, she attended school in the Shanghai ghetto and was studying to be a nurse. On November 26, 1944, she married Heinz Marcks in Shanghai. Her studies were interrupted when they secured visas and passage on the SS Gordan to the United States. She was welcomed to the US with a diagnosis of tuberculosis and a stay in a TB hospital. Ilse and Heinz settled in Houston, Texas in 1948. They had two children Sheila Marcks Dobin and Randy Marcks.
Ilse worked for Houston Upholstering Company and David Danziger Manufacturing as a bookkeeper. She then was in the office of Financial Aid at UT health Science Center. After retirement from the UT Health Science Center, she and Heinz traveled extensively. Heinz, the love of her life, died in 2001. She then started volunteering at the Holocaust Museum and taped an interview of her personal experiences so that people would never forget. In her early years, many of her books had doodles that showed she was an artist at heart and she started taking painting classes at the JCC in her 80’s. Many of her children and grandchildren now have those paintings. She proved to be a remarkably adept at art forgery.
Ilse had a love of family. Her greatest joys were the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren. She reveled in celebrating with family and friends on holidays. Heinz and Ilse also ran a rowdy New Years party for many in Houston’s Jewish German community. In her later years, she enjoyed reading and playing solitaire on her kindle, talking to the kids and playing with her cat Ari who now resides with Karen and Randy.
She is survived by her children and their spouses, Sheila & Loui Dobin and Randy Marcks & Karen Walters. She is also survived by six grandchildren/spouses Ryan Henderson, Scott Henderson (Els), Ashley Marcks, Heather Marcks, Jonathan Dobin (Hallie), and Zachary Dobin. She taught all of us, children and grandchildren alike, to appreciate and enjoy every moment, no matter how dark the day seems. Her Jewish journey, not an easy one, imbued her with strength that she passed forward.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in her memory to either Greene Family Camp or Houston Hospice.