Heinz Tolksdorf, D.V.M.

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Heinz Josef Tolksdorf, D.V.M., 92, Washington, passed away Wednesday, August 24, 2011, in Washington, after a brief illness. Dr. Tolksdorf practiced veterinary medicine for nearly 50 years in Washington, retiring in 2002. Heinz was born March 12, 1919, in Klotainen, East Prussia, Germany, one of 13 children of the marriage of Eduard Tolksdorf and Agatha Lankau. He and his twin brother, Hans, were inseparable and practically indistinguishable. His mother died when he was 14. When his father remarried, the 10 surviving children were blessed with a devoted stepmother in Martha Jarewitz. Heinz excelled in his studies, receiving his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Friedrich Wilhelm University, Berlin. He was conscripted into the army and assigned to horse-drawn artillery battalions for the duration of the war. Dr. Tolksdorf was one of a handful of soldiers who emerged from Russia, but not without having escaped three times. In the last days of the war he fled west, determined to get to the American-occupied zone of Germany before surrendering, where he figured his odds of survival were greatly improved. After the war, he settled in a farming area near Magdeburg, East Germany. Pressure was applied on him to join the Communist Party. When he refused, he knew he would be arrested shortly, so once again he fled west, hiding in the trunk of a car of a friend traveling on business to West Germany. He found out later that the authorities came to his house the following morning. On December 12, 1951, he married his childhood love, Brigitte Fittkau, in Xanten, Germany. In January 1952, he and Brigitte emigrated to the United States along with her daughter, Birgitta, to whom he became a loving and devoted father. A true outdoorsman, he was fly-fishing the day he became ill. He was devoted to his faith, and upon rising each morning, he found a quiet corner of the house to thank God for the gift of another day. He is survived by his sons, Michael Tolksdorf, Washington, and Matthias Tolksdorf and wife Teresa, Jefferson City; three daughters, Birgitta Bannister, St. Louis, Barbara M. Winfrey and husband Roger, Sibley, and Christa Tolksdorf Owen, D.V.M., Treasure Island, Fla.; and six grandchildren, Jeffrey, Kimberley, and Julia Tolksdorf, and Kinley, Roger-Douglas, and Birgitta C. Winfrey. Dr. Tolksdorf was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Brigitte on February 28, 2011; his youngest son, Heinz Gerhard; a son-in-law, Charles Owen; and all of his brothers and sisters. A memorial service was held Saturday, August 27, at St. Francis Borgia Church, Washington, with Father John Mayo officiating. Memorials to St. Francis Borgia Grade School are preferred. The family was served by Miller Funeral Home, Washington.

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