Iduna Hanel, 98, Wife and Mother of 2, Loved the Arts

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 05/08/2020 - 00:54

Iduna Helga Hanel, 98, passed April 28, 2020 in Ann Arbor.  She was born November 8, 1921 in Obergruenburg, Austria to Rudolf & Maria (Jordan) Zeitlinger.  Upon graduating with the equivalent of an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1949, Iduna returned home to manage the family company garden, raising enough food annually to feed three households and provide a surplus to the local produce shops.  She served in this capacity until she married Dr. Rudolf A. Hanel in Hinterstoder, Austria in 1958.  The pair settled near Washington, D.C. and for the next forty years raised their family in a loving and supportive home.  Iduna applied her skills to year-round gardening, sewing, cooking (including a full dinner on-time at 6 p.m. every day), and mastering the arts of baking bread and decorating Christmas cookies.  She hosted dinners, cocktail parties and open houses--always preparing all food from scratch.  She wrote weekly letters to her family and friends and researched and authored a self-published book of her family’s stories within the context of the scythe-making industry in Austria.

Iduna’s greatest love was art.  During her youth she painted watercolor landscapes.  She also learned the art of wood block printing, carefully carving her pictures in reverse on a piece of wood and then hand-printing the images with paint and rollers and the touch of her fingers.  This medium became Iduna’s primary focus during her time in Maryland and Michigan--first printing in black and white, but then carving numerous blocks per picture so that she could print in full color.  Her work was displayed in local galleries and on her annual Christmas cards.

Iduna and Rudi enjoyed traveling across the US and Canada in their VW Camper.  They regularly attended concerts and plays, and loved visiting with friends and neighbors or laughing over inside jokes.  To be closer to family, the couple relocated from Brookeville MD to Ann Arbor MI in 1998.  There they spent enjoyable days with their grandchildren, more friends and neighbors, an extensive library, a larder full of chocolate, and Peter the Cat.

Iduna was preceded in death by her husband and siblings.  She is survived by daughters and son-in-laws, Ina and Michael Gerdenich (Ann Arbor) and Selma and Stuart Rosenthal (Fayetteville NY) and grandchildren Eric, Gregory, Rudi, Katie, and Alex.

The family extends a special thank you to the nurses, doctors and staff on Floor 9E of St Joseph Mercy Hospital of Ann Arbor for their excellent and compassionate care.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the St Joseph Mercy Hospital Covid-19 Colleague Emergency Assistance Fund (  To sign her guestbook or leave a memory please visit

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