Georgette Vitez Renz passed away peacefully April 2, 2022 in Norfolk, VA. On her last day she was gently held, kissed, and whispered to by almost all members of her family, adoring ushers all.
Georgette was born July 25, 1931 in Budapest, Hungary and emigrated to the US at the tender age of 8, frantically fleeing the Nazi incursion. She, her parents, and older brother Tom boarded the last boat to leave from Rome, Italy in 1940 and embarked on a voyage through mine laden seas heading for the free world.
If ever there was a person adored, admired, loved, respected, and treasured, ceaselessly and unreservedly, it was Georgette. She was a fantastic mom, affectionately known as Nanyu to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She had boundless love for all of us and we returned it as best we could. Georgette was also a guidance counselor, schoolteacher, sketcher, potter, recorder player, avid reader, and arts lover. She savored and supported the arts, especially opera, and frequently attended performances at Chrysler Hall, Harrison Opera House, and Virginia Stage Company. And she loved playing cards. She was a fine bridge player, and she reveled in the name, as much as the game, of Oh Shit aka Oh Hell for those with more delicate sensibilities. She loved the outdoors, loved floating on the lake at her cabin in Canada, soaking up sunshine and meditating to her heart’s content. But if you floated up next to her, linking your arms, or holding onto each other’s raft, creating a kind of drifting daisy chain, sharing intimate thoughts or frivolous dreams.. well.. that was her bliss and she was already in heaven. She had a mischievous streak, and a sense of humor that tended toward bawdy, which delighted her adolescent and adult grandchildren to no end. Georgette was an active member of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk for decades (when it was a jewel on the Hague and Yarmouth St). She loved singing in the choir. Many of her closest friends were fellow Unitarians and we know that community misses her.
For all the things she suffered, and this is just the short list -fleeing the Holocaust, a difficult marriage and devastating divorce that broke her heart, harrowing single motherhood, a fall that broke her neck, wearing the “halo,” not the good one, the Gothic one.. the one that’s screwed into your head, years of physical therapy and wheelchair confinement, she never complained. We don’t draw your attention to the hardships Georgette endured, in search of sympathy. We draw your attention to the wonder of her character. Hardships didn’t harden her. She didn’t possess one thimbleful of bitterness, not one ounce of regret, not a smidgeon of smugness. She was filled with compassion, and gentle curiosity for every person she met. She was incredibly accepting of all. She deftly dispensed wisdom and guidance, always a patient and generous listener. Her bearing was soothing and people were drawn to her because she made them feel welcome and safe and cared-for in her presence. She faced the world with an open mind, an open heart, and open arms. And in today’s world, any world, that’s not nothing.
She lives on in the hearts of many, including her children Paul, Victoria, and Nic Renz, and a colorful collective of grandchildren and great grandchildren that have hitched a ride on her spirit. We will miss her for the rest of our lives. May the memory of Nanyu inspire us to emulate her, to practice the arts of kindness and love, fortitude and forgiveness, grace and resilience, not to mention generosity – qualities she embodied day after day, year after year, time after time.
The Renz family