Gisela Masanto

1924 - 2022

Gisela Marianne Masanto: Passed away peacefully at Grey Bruce Health Services/Wiarton Hospital in South Bruce Peninsula on Thursday, March 31, 2022 at the age of 98. Faithful and devoted wife of Louis Arnold Masanto. Predeceased by her parents Ernst and Gisela Franke, and her loving husband, Louis. Sadly missed by her brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and her many dear friends.

Mrs. Gisela Masanto was born in Bruchsal Germany in 1924 where her father managed a large textile manufacturing firm for Herr Otto Oppenheimer. Gisela grew up surrounded by music and poetry often recalling Herr Oppenheimer's kindness in arranging a poem she had created at age 4 to be read on the radio. Gisela attended an all-girls school as was the custom. She mastering her lessons easily and established a reputation for herself as a stalwart, deeply caring and morally strong individual. Writing in his report, her professor described her as "a young girl of unusual ability and strength of character, passionately fond of history." She enjoyed outdoor sports, too, particularly swimming and biking.
During WWII, Gisela was a medical aid in a camp nestled among the mountains of Southern Germany. As conflict ended, she walked home to Bruchsal. Returning home took an entire month hiking during the day and at night sleeping in fields and under trees, trading cigarettes for food. At war’s end, she married, and lived in Bruchsal working as court reporter in Heidelberg while helping her husband obtain his law degree. According to Gisela, her biggest dream, even as a young child, was to play the violin in a symphony orchestra. Fortunately, this dream came true after she immigrated to Canada eventually settling Kingston, Ontario. Her violin instructor at that time was also the conductor of the Kingston Symphony Orchestra. He offered Gisela a premiere spot with the second violins, and she was in absolute heaven. Gisela spoke several languages: German, English, French and some Russian. Quick witted, but always eloquent, Gisela wrote many musical reviews for the Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper.
It was the 60s, a period of enormous change and progress. The revolutionary Wankel engine was under development in both the United States and Canada. But a research project dealing with free-piston engines at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, in which her second husband, an engineer, was involved came to completion. On a lark, he secured a position in the Caribbean and Gisela moved again, this time to Grenada. It was and still is a beautiful island, though at the time access to classical music was more than limited. While Gisela persisted with her music, a local celebrity, Louis Masanto, happened to returned to the island after taking his music degree at Trinity College, London, England then opened a music studio in St. George, the capital. Gisela approach him for help. Recognizing her unique talent, he persuaded Gisela to obtain an ATCL and a teaching diploma. This proved no easy undertaking, as the examiners came from England only once a year, and there was not a single violin instructor available on the entire island. Gisela doggedly persisted and finally received with honors both her ATCL and a teaching diploma while working tirelessly as senior manager in 'The Nutmeg,' an upscale restaurant, as a hostess/sales person at 'Yellow Poui,' a notable art gallery in St. George, and as an artful window dresser in the largest department store in Grenada at the time.
After living on the island for 17 years, she married Louis Masanto. It was a joyous, supportive and intimate union. They enjoyed life and together played leading roles in National Theater productions of Pirates of Penzance and H.M.S. Pinafore. Gisela, herself, appeared in dozens of other operettas. Unfortunately, times became turbulent. So, when the communists invaded Grenada and attempted to change the government, they returned to Canada. Eventually settling in Welland, Gisela and her husband, Louis, taught violin, piano and voice. A childless couple, they were devoted to their dogs, Molly and Georgie. Students taking music lessons in their home had to mind both their feet and their playing. Gisela did much to help and support the Humane Society. In 1983, she joined the Niagara Peninsula Orchestra, then became president 2006 – 2008. During her time with the orchestra, she played violin switching to the viola when the orchestra was short on violas. At first, she did not enjoy the switch; but after a time, she became to appreciate and enjoy the deep rich tones of the instrument. Still, the violin remained Gisela's favorite instrument. Combing a strong sense of service and a love of music, she belonged to 'Dreamers,' a community band which played popular music at senior homes and other venues. Recognized for her outstanding commitment to others Gisela was honored by the Honorable Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
As Louis’ health declined, he and Gisela, with the help of friends at Holy Trinity Church, sold both their home and car then moved into a retirement home in Fonthill, Ontario. This home was not far from the church where Louis had been organist enabling Gisela to continue to attend and to practice with the Peninsula orchestra which she dearly loved. Suddenly, when she might have been thinking more of Mozart than struggling with Louis' care, she was thrust into a completely new and difficult role. Louis became gravely ill then died late 2016. After Louis’ death, Gisela moved again to stay with a family friend on Colpoys Bay in Bruce Peninsula. Together they often travelled returning again to Kingston, Muskoka, Upper Michigan and Niagara. Gisela loved attending church, participating in worship service and greeting people. So after relocating, she became a member of the St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran church, and for two and half years during the pandemic attended service online before her untimely death.
Gisela held a deep love of her homeland, especially her home city, Bruchsal. She loved German cooking especially potato pancakes and pretzels, Grenadian rum, and clothes with good style. She enjoyed TV serials, especially Perry Mason, Det. Morse mysteries, the James Herriot series, the Chronicles of Downton Abbey, the untamed, ebullient comedy of 'Keeping Up Appearances' and following the Royal Family on YouTube. She loved history, poetry and of course, acting. But Gisela’s passion was music. Few possess the integrity, the happy sense of casualness, informality, joyfulness, and good humor of Gisela. Conversations were always interesting and uplifting.
Before the pandemic, she played several concerts with the Owen Sound Symphony Orchestra and sang with the Community Choir in Lion’s Head. Her favorite piece of music was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major. She adored conductor Daniel Barenboim for his skill, talent and integrity. She, herself, was direct and open, impeccably honest and manifestly sincere. Gisela rarely became angry and was never morally unctuous. Throughout her life she had been faithful, unselfish and high-minded in all her dealings.
Gisela was incredibly generous and her temperament, though joyful, was thoughtful, calm and contemplative. Her character won the love and respect of everyone. Above all, she always showed the ability to persist, to organize, and do the necessary long hours required of practice and to bring people together to a common view. The measure each of us lies not in our talents or gifts, but in what we do with them and how we engage others to make this world a better place. Gisela achieved that; and much more.
Gisela Marianne Masanto was a remarkable lady.

“A life well-lived leaves its gentle pattern on the hearts of all, and the world is a lovelier place because one person touched it with warmth, goodness and grace.” Jessica St. James

Private family arrangements made at Thomas C. Whitcroft Peninsula Chapel, Wiarton, Ontario (519-534-5341). Donations to charity of your choice would be appreciated. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitcroftfuneralhome.com

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