The Search for Thea Leonora GRAHAM nee LOEW

In August 2000 we were asked to locate Mrs Thea Leonora GRAHAM (Maiden name LOW). All we knew about her at that stage was that in 1946 she had lived at 22 Cambridge Road in Huddersfield, and that she was the daughter of Oskar and Charlotte Gertrud LOEW.

The search was requested by a Prague real estate Company who had identified a property belonging To the family which could be inherited by Thea – but they had no idea where Thea was. Letters to Huddersfield had been sent, but were returned marked “unknown”

We spent many weeks trying to piece a picture together – but failed. Letters were sent to all Graham addresses in Yorkshire – with not one positive echo. We also tried to find Thea through medical records – that too yielded only negative answers.

We had a Letter to the Editor published in the local Newspaper asking whether anybody remembered her. Two readers responded, they had been to school with Thea, but had lost touch many years ago…

Eventually we had to admit that the search appeared futile.

About a year later an e-mail arrived in London:
From: "huddersfield" huddersfield@msn.com
To: davidlewin@btinternet.com
Subject: THEA LEONORA GRAHAM
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 17:04:07 -0400

Dear David:

In trolling www.google.com the net I came across your above enquiry it
did not mention what date it was posted.

If you have already had success never mind, but if you are still
looking I have old information which may or may not be of assistance.

Regards,

Donald Gowing
Warren, New Jersey USA

It transpired that Donald was trying to bring about a reunion of the Huddersfield Technical College matriculating class of 1942 – and Thea LOW was one of that group of people.

Suddenly, by dint of the wonders of the Web, we had a whole new set of information:

Thea’s parents had anglicised their name from LOEW to LOW. They had arrived as refugees from Prague, and chose Huddersfield because Thea had an aunt and uncle who lived in Huddersfield – we do not know their names.
We were also told that Thea’s only sibling, a brother, Peter Klaus LOW, died on 25 July 1944 aged 17. He was buried in the United Hebrew Congregation Jewish cemetery on the Huddersfield Road, Leeds.

A little later Thea had married another member of that class - Neville GRAHAM, and for the first time we knew the name of the husband. The Graham family were in the quarry business in the 1940s

Armed with this information, the search took on new life.

The Huddersfield local newspaper – The Examiner – agreed to publish a feature article about the search.

We contacted the cemetery. The Sexton and his wife were most helpful and looked at the headstones. Not only was Klaus LOW buried there, but so were both Thea’s parents: Dr Oskar LOW died in 1964 is “mourned by wife, daughter and granddaughter" Gertrude Charlotte LOW died in 1980 at the Morris Feinmann Home in Didsbury, Manchester. Her Stone only said “mourned by her granddaughter”

It now appeared that Thea had died before her mother and that we needed to identify and find the granddaughter.

An application was made for the death certificate and Probate documents for Thea’s mother. The Will (dated 1959) stated that she had bequeathed her estate to her daughter Thea GAUTSCHI. The „Grant of Probate“ from the High Court of Justice in Leeds (Sep 1980) notes that Thea had died before her mother (i.e. between 1959 and 1980) and that the will leaves Gertrude’s property to „any surviving grandchild“ – or in the event that no grandchild survived, to the RSPCA.
A call to the RSPCA told us that they had no record of such a bequest – and probably never received anything under this will. In other words, a granddaughter existed in 1980, with the surname GAUTSCHI.

Gautschi is not exactly a common name in England. We found it only once in the phone books. In other countries it was present – notably USA, Germany, Holland – but mainly in Switzerland.

An extensive search then started to try to find a Gautschi who recognized this story. Eventually we discovered one. He was not only interested, but had actually written a book on the subject. We still had the problem of overcoming the very strict Swiss Laws protecting the Rights and Privacy of the Individual. But that too was surmounted eventually, and we were given the address details of Thea’s granddaughter. She is now in the process of submitting a claim to the Czech Authorities to recognize her inheritance claim to her great grand parents’ home – that of Arnostka and Richard KAPPER born 1875 in Dobris, "transported" 30 Jul 1945 to Teresienstadt and murdered there.

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