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Zdenka Vera Tripp

October 24, 1925 May 28, 2020
Zdenka Vera Tripp
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Obituary for Zdenka Vera Tripp

Zdenka Zednikova Pospsilova Tripp
(October 24, 1925 – May 28,2020),

Daugher of Ferdinand and Zofia Zednik, born in Ujezd, Czechoslovakia is survived by sons Lubomir Pospisil (Ann Robinson) Corvallis, OR; Petr Pospisil (Diane Pospisil) Monterey, CA; companion of seven years, Glenn Heesacker; and grandchildren Mik, Sofia, Kate, Jackie and Nicholas Pospisil.

An avid athlete Zdenka qualified for the 1948 Summer Olympics in London but because of the Communist takeover of her homeland and her relationship to her future husband's family, who had fled to the United States, was prohibited from attending. She received a Bachelor's degree in Science from Palackeho University in Olomouce prior to the Communist takeover. Zdenka worked at a hospital lab and did research work until the Communist government barred her from all but menial labor. In 1949, she married Lubomir Pospisil, a college-educated engineer, forced into manual labor by the government because of his ties to the US.

Despite the restrictions and oppression, Zdenka continued to train with and lead youth in the Sokol physical training movement. The Communist party eventually ended Sokol, but years as a leader in that organization gave her great strength and pride. At age 90, she was still able to stand on her head when she had an audience. She did so to illustrate her independence.

On May 11, 1964, her husband, Lubomir died in a car accident that critically injured Zdenka and both their teenage sons. Hospitalized for many months, Zdenka determined that to assure her sons a future beyond manual labor she must seek refuge in America. On December 19, 1964 in the dead of night with one small bag each they went by train to Austria. Using forged papers she convinced border guards that this was a quick trip during the school holidays. The next morning she was sitting on the steps of the American Embassy in Vienna when it opened ready to seek asylum in the United States.

On January 23, 1965, Zdenka and her boys boarded a chartered immigration flight destined for New York. Until March they lived with her late husband's brother in Connecticut and then flew to Portland, Oregon where they were met by her late husband's parents and driven to Eugene. Zdenka spoke Czech, German and French when she arrived. English came later.

By May she had a janitorial position in the Biology Department at the University of Oregon. While cleaning the lab, she came upon a small group of graduate students huddled around a piece of lab equipment that had malfunctioned. Familiar with the high precision analytical scale, she asked in broken English if she might help. Word of her skills with the scale reached the genetics research lab director Dr.Eddie Novitsky who wanted to understand how this custodian had such highly technical knowledge. The office secretary spoke French and acted as translator. Soon Zdenka was working as an assistant in Novitsky's lab and learning English at work.

Novitsky and his family lovingly helped Zdenka, even taking her two boys to Colorado for a month that summer giving the boys a crash course in English. Eddie and Esther Novitsky and their friends Marianne and Dr. Peter Frank were a gift to Zdenka and her children. Those relationships helped her to learn trust again and to accept the generosity of Americans who she met along the way adding great warmth and richness to her life.

By spring of 1967 with the help of her two hardworking high school age sons, Zdenka had saved enough money to put a down payment on a house. In the spring of 1970, Zdenka became a US citizen and soon after traveled back to Czechoslovakia to visit family and friends. In the late 1970s, the lab had closed and Zdenka was working odd jobs when she met Gordon Tripp. Their mutual love of Symphonic Music and support for the Eugene Symphony brought them together and in 1980 they married. They lived on his ranch east of Springfield until the early 1990s when they moved to Eugene. They traveled frequently, brought her mother to live in Oregon, spent many happy times with their grandchildren and were avid patrons of the Eugene Symphony and the Corvallis Youth Symphony.

Soon after Gordon's death in 2007, Zdenka moved into senior independent living, first at Willamette Oaks, then the Eugene Hotel, eventually settling at Stoneybrook in Corvallis to be nearer to son Lubomir. At Stoneybrook she fell in love again and her declining years were buoyed by her relationship with Glenn Heesacker. Until her injuries from the 1964 car accident forced her to use a walker and then wheelchair, she did daily exercises and teased the family about staying fit.

In her final days, she was speaking German again with the wonderful nurse at the Regent Court Senior Living Memory Care in Corvallis. She received loving attention and respectful care there for the last seven months of her life. The staff valiantly kept her comfortable and Covid 19-free in the midst of a pandemic. With the support of Evergreen Hospice staff they gave care to both Zdenka and Glenn making sure that they always had one another nearby.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to: The Eugene Symphony, The Corvallis Youth Symphony, Samaritan Evergreen Hospice, The Regent Court Senior Living Memory Care in Corvallis, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND, a refugee support organization)


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