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Gisela H Kunz-Orton

November 12, 1935 — April 12, 2024

St. George

Gisela Gertrud Inge Hundt Kunz Orton 

Gisela Gertrud Inge Hundt Kunz Orton, aged 88, passed away in her sleep on Friday, April 12, 2024. Gisela was born in the city of Neubrandenburg, in what would become East Germany, the oldest of seven children. By necessity, Gisela learned resilience at an early age. When she was just nine years old, Gisela’s family fled their hometown in a telephone truck just ahead of the advancing Russian army. Theirs was the last vehicle to leave before the occupiers closed in. For the next two years, food was scarce and personal space was nonexistent. The family spent three weeks huddled together in the corner of a freight car. From there they moved to a school, which was so packed with refugees that Gisela’s mother had to spend four weeks sleeping in a sitting position. Eventually, after many further hardships, they settled in a small home of their own in Celle, Germany. 

The faith and personal strength that sustained Gisela in her darkest times stayed with her as she grew older. Gisela served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the East German mission. Her father, who had returned from a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp antagonistic to the Church, forbade her from going, but she followed her convictions and eventually saw his heart soften. Afterward, she emigrated to the United States and found a job at the Genealogical Index Bureau in Salt Lake City, where she met Lyle Kunz on a blind date. That was in May; they were married in November in the Idaho Falls Temple. 

Gisela and Lyle built a little house in Teton Valley, Idaho, and raised three children there. Gisela’s early years of hardship instilled in her several qualities that stayed with her as she raised her family: faith, frugality, and hard work. She remained active in The Church of Jesus Christ until her death and was known for her love of genealogy and the joy she found in the temple. She had never known her own grandmothers, but she made up for missed times by making sure each one of her own grandchildren never forgot they were loved. Lyle passed away in 2014, but Gisela found companionship and love in her final decade by marrying John Orton of Star Valley, Wyoming. 

She is survived by her husband John; sons Mark (Debra) Kunz of Kenai, Alaska, and Eric (Trisha) Kunz of Rigby, Idaho; daughter Laurel (Chris) Briggs of Rigby, Idaho; siblings Bruno (Christel) Hundt and Ela (Ernst) Maier of Germany; twelve grandchildren; and fifteen great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Bruno and Wanda; her husband Lyle; siblings Erika, Karl-Heinz, Christa, and Elke; and a grandson, Bryce. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. at the Driggs Stake Center with Bishop Brodie Birch officiating. A viewing will be held prior to the funeral from 9:30 to 10:45. In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Philanthropies.

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