Gundega Zemzars, 86, of Windham, CT passed away peacefully on March 9, 2023. Gundi was born in Rezekne, Latvia on December 3, 1936.
As a child, she fled the Russian invasion of Latvia with her family. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) The Zemzars’ family spent five years in a displaced persons camp in Fischbach, Germany during the war. Her father, Janis Zemzars, served in the Latvian Army and was a guard at the Nuremberg Trials. With the help of an American Captain, her family secured sponsorship to the USA.
They came across the ocean by boat and wound up in Germantown, NY where Janis served his one-year commitment by working on an apple farm. They left New York and came to Willimantic, CT by train, joining the vibrant group of Latvians in town.
Despite being 12 years old and not knowing any English, Gundi excelled in school. She graduated from Windham High School in 1955, received her bachelor’s degree from UConn and her master’s degree from Eastern. Gundi taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science at Colchester Central School for many years. She was legendary there for some of the ways she tried to excite and engage her students. Gundi would occasionally pick up road kill on the way to school and dissect it in the classroom.
She kept busy in retirement by substitute teaching and hosting several exchange students from Germany and Australia. Her first exchange student, Hanna Lange, married a fellow Windham High student and now lives in Rhode Island with her husband and son.
Gundi was a devout Christian and served her God for many years at Baptist Fellowship in Columbia. She was very generous with both her time and money, giving a lot of donations to charity.
Gundi was predeceased by her father, Janis Zemzars, mother, Milda (Karklins) Zemzars, and brother-in-law Ted Bailey. She leaves behind her loving son Sean Zemzars, brother John Zemzars and his wife Ilze, sister Dzintra Bailey and her two sons David and Joshua. Gundi will be missed by many, and her legacy will last a long time.
Gundi’s family will receive relatives and friends on Friday, March 17, 2023 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Potter Funeral Home, 456 Jackson St. Willimantic. Her funeral service will be on Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 9:00am at the Baptist Fellowship, 195 Rt 6, Columbia, with her burial following at New Willimantic Cemetery, Willimantic, CT. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to your favorite charity.
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