Sunday, July 21, 2024

Hedwig Josephine Sass, 86

Hedwig Josephine Sass (Wilmington Funeral & Cremation)

WILMINGTON — Hedwig “Hedy” Josephine Sass passed away peacefully at her home in Wilmington, NC on Monday, June 17, 2024, at the age of 86.

Hedy was an extraordinary woman whose life served as an inspiration to her family and all who knew her. Born and raised in Aulendorf, Germany, with her parents Anton and Maria, she was surrounded by her two brothers (Rudy and Helmut) and two sisters (Hilde and Irene). She graduated from high school with a concentration in home economics. In April 1961, at the age of 23, she married Harry Sass, who was also from Germany and a friend of her brother Rudy.

Harry immigrated to the United States in July 1956 and worked as a Journeyman Brick Mason until his voluntary military draft into the US military in December 1958 at Fort Ord in California. He attended jump school at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Harry returned to Germany as an enlisted soldier with the U.S. Army and was stationed in Augsburg, Germany. Harry and Hedy were married in a double wedding alongside Hedy’s sister Hilde, complete with matching wedding dresses. Their first child, Marcus, was born in Augsburg on August 27, 1962. The family immigrated to the US in 1963 to Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina, where her daughter Isabella was born on February 23, 1964. It was there that she met Elaine Holmes, who became a lifelong friend and taught Hedy her first English words. Elaine’s daughter, Georgia, was born one week after Isabella, and the two daughters also became and remain lifelong friends. Soon after, Harry was selected for the Special Forces (Green Berets, 1963) based out of Fort Bragg (now Fort Liberty) near Fayetteville, North Carolina, and was soon sent to Vietnam.

While Harry was in Vietnam, Hedy was raising two small children while adjusting to a new country, language, and culture. In an effort to earn enough money to visit her family in Germany while Harry was deployed, Hedy got a job through a neighbor as a knitter at a local textile plant. She soon advanced with her innate technical aptitude and attention to detail, keeping the knitting machines running in the plant. This began a remarkable journey: a 32-year career in leadership in the textile industry—a field dominated by males. Hedy gained respect beyond what anyone would have thought imaginable. She befriended and worked closely with German engineers who came to service the equipment at the plants she managed. Shewas promoted seven times until she was running entire plant operations.

Throughout her exceptional professional journey, Hedy always prioritized her children. She worked the hardest shifts—evening and night shifts—to be home when Marcus and Isabella were home. She instilled steadfast work ethic and morals not only in her children but also in her larger family and community.

Hedy’s house was always the center of activity. Holidays were filled with close friends, family, German traditions, delicious meals, laughter, and life lessons. Hedy was tough—in the best and most loving way. She expected a great deal from those around her but nothing that she wasn’t willing to do herself.

Hedy relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina to open J.P. Stevens’ textile plant in Wallace, NC, and eventually retired there in 2000. She loved spending time with her four grandsons (Sebastian, Nicholas, Christopher, and Xander), being outside in her garden, walking on the beach, swimming, and being with friends in her neighborhood. Her German family and heritage were always a defining part of her life, even after 60 years in the United States.

Hedy is survived by her son, Marcus Sass of North Potomac, Maryland (Wife: Azita; Sons: Sebastian, 23, and Xander, 13), and daughter, Isabella Sass Schwenker of Wilmington (Sons Nicholas, 22, and Christopher, 19); her brothers Rudy and Helmut; and her nieces and nephews. Her legacy of resilience, strength of will and character, and unwavering love for her family will continue through her children, grandchildren, close friends, extended family, and all who knew her.

The family will hold a service for Hedy in Wilmington on Friday, June 28, 2024, at 4 pm at Wilmington Funeral & Cremation – Wilmington Chapel – 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403. Telephone: (910) 791.9099. She will be laid to rest alongside her late husband Harry Sass at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages you to donate to a verified veterans’ organization of your choice, as this was a meaningful cause for Hedy.

Please leave memories and condolences for Mrs. Sass’s family here.

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