Anneliese G. Mayer-Harnisch, 100, of Arroyo Grande passed away peacefully on May 5, 2020 at her home. She was born in Wilhelmshaven, Germany on April 7, 1920, the daughter of Karl and Maria Gerdes. She spent her formative years growing up in Wilhelmshaven, where she completed her primary and secondary education. When she was eight years old, she almost died on the operating table from complications after appendicitis. This experience created in her the desire to become a medical doctor. As a young girl growing up, she received a musical education in piano and flute and played in the youth orchestra. After graduation from high school, she studied pharmacy in order to please her father, who was a pharmacist. She passed a two year pharmaceutical exam but then decided to study medicine. She first attended medical school in Innsbruck, Austria, where she passed her pre-med exams and then continued her medical education at the University of Hamburg Medical School in Hamburg, Germany, where she met her future husband, Guenther Mayer-Harnisch. They both received their medical degrees.
During this time, as World War II was raging in Europe, Annelie lost both of her parents in a bombing raid. After her internship, a family friend, upon hearing the sad news about her parents, invited her and her new husband to come and live with them in Salem, Oregon. She and Guenther both practiced medicine in a state hospital for several years before finally moving to sunny California. While Guenther received more medical training, Annelie took care of her new family.
Having suffered the horrors of World War II, Annelie yearned for unity and peace. She was attracted to the world embracing Baha’i Faith, which advocates the principles of oneness and universal peace, and became a Baha’i. Annelie served as the secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of San Luis Obispo County-South, and as the librarian and program director of the Nine Oaks Baha’i Institute. During this time, she hosted many meetings where speakers offered themes like the Destiny of American Human Rights are God-given Rights, the Equality of Men and Women, the Spiritual Solution to the Economic Problem and many more. These evenings always attracted large crowds.
In later years, Annelie went back to school and received her master’s degree in biological sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She also traveled extensively to give talks in various countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic on the principles of the Baha’i Faith.
She is survived by her son Tom (Susanne) of San Ramon, CA; daughter Claudia of Arroyo Grande, CA; grandson Thomas (Wanwisa) of Pleasant Hill, CA; granddaughter Vanessa of Sacramento, CA; great-granddaughter Layla of Pleasant Hill, CA; great-grandson Logan of Pleasant Hill, CA; and nephews Karl-Herman Gerdes and Gerrit Gerdes of Norden, Germany. She was predeceased in death by her husband Dr. Guenther Mayer-Harnisch, father Karl Gerdes, mother Maria Gerdes, and brother Martin Gerdes.
A private funeral service was held on May 9 in Arroyo Grande, CA.
Arrangements are being handled by Marshall-Spoo Sunset Funeral Chapel in Grover Beach, CA.
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