Edeltraut Rosa-Maria Thiele
Portland - Mrs. Edeltraut Rosa-Marie Matussek Thiele, 81, formerly of Fort Kent, Maine, passed away on Sunday, February 2, 2020 at Fallbrook Woods Memory Care Facility in Portland, Maine with her two loving daughters by her side, Monika and Erika Thiele.

Born in Hahausen, Germany in 1938, she was the oldest child of Rosa Maria Brunke and Georg Ernst Matussek. She was just 7 when her family had to flee their home in Kreuzberg, Germany when the Russians invaded the far east front during WWII. Edeltraut, her mother and 3 younger siblings returned to the small village of Hahausen in the Harz Mountains where she was born with just the clothes on their back and belongings they could carry.

Edeltraut proceeded to excel in school and graduated from Gymnasium in Seesen (high school) where she met her childhood sweetheart, Eberhard Hans Thiele, whom she later followed to California and married in 1959. Dr. Thiele left Germany after graduating high school to pursue his Ph.D in forestry and environmental education in the United States. The couple settled in Berkeley, California, where Edeltraut began work in a law firm as a paralegal.

In 1970, Edeltraut gave birth to Erika who was born with Down Syndrome and whom she devoted her lifelong mission of advocacy to, starting with integrating Erika to the Berkeley public school system as one of the first students with special needs. In 1976, Monika was born and the family moved across country to settle in the small town of Fort Kent, Maine, where Eberhard founded the Environmental Studies program at the University of Maine. Edeltraut soon became active in advocating for the rights of people with special needs in Aroostook County. She was co-founder and Executive Director of the Northern Aroostook Association for the Handicapped (NAAH) - a parent support group that promotes the general welfare of all people with special needs - and was co-founder of the Maine Parent Federation where she served on the Board of Directors until 2012.

Edeltraut was subsequently appointed to the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council by Governor Longley, and subsequently reappointed by Governors Brennan and McKernan. Governor Brennan once said, "There are few people who can match Mrs. Thiele's record of public service." She was also appointed by Governor Brennan to the Select Committee to Address Training and Employment Opportunities for Handicapped Persons Beyond School Age and helped to advance passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Edeltraut never stopped pursuing her goals. In 1995, at age 57, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Studies from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, earning Alpha Chi honors. When she wasn't juggling her role as a devoted single mom, student, executive director, or advocate extraordinaire, she could be found enjoying a cup of coffee on her back deck amidst her flowers, watching birds and butterflies, or the occasional passer-bys (moose, deer, foxes) on her 50 acres of land on Charette Hill which she treasured so much. Edeltraut was reflective and deeply committed to her children, ensuring both would live their fullest lives, leading by example and loving them with a protective hand and infinite heart.

Edeltraut will be missed deeply by her girls and all who knew her, including those who cared for her once she relocated to Portland, Maine in 2015. She battled dementia and a slow decline of her physical abilities for the last 5 years, but blessedly never lost her memory of those whom she loved dearly or her will to fight for what was right. She will be honored by the legacy she leaves behind in the State of Maine, forever known as a tireless champion of equal rights for people with disabilities and by the realization of her dreams for her daughters.

Erika now lives semi-independently in a residential home with 4 other women in Portland, Maine, attending Bomb Diggity Art program, volunteering at 75 State Street assisted living home, and enjoying life in the city! Monika works as an International Policy Specialist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC, advancing U.S. interests in a United Nations treaty called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Edeltraut was predeceased by her former spouse, Eberhard Hans Thiele, and her sister Rosamarie Ohms. She is survived by her sister Ilsa Novak, her brother Horst Matussek, her longtime companion David Tenney and her daughters Erika and Monika. A service to honor Edeltraut will be held in Fort Kent, Maine sometime in July. To send cards or condolences, please write to: Monika Thiele, 52 Dale St., Alexandria, VA 22305.

To view Edeltraut's Memorial Page, or to share an online condolence, please visit:
Published on February 10, 2020


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Showing 10 of 8 posts

Gerald &Peggy; Charette
Feb 14, 2020
Dear Erika &Monika;. Sending condolences to you both. And what a beautiful Tribute memories of your beautiful mother. You were right she did make sure you girls were educated, like she had worked so hard for her self, she accomplished a lot. May she Rest In Peace. All her wishes has come true. And always remember she loved you both so much. And do we. Big hug.
Myrna Voisine
Feb 13, 2020
Dear Erika and Monika, So sorry about your Mom. What a beautiful lady, she work so hard as an advocate for the rights of so many people. She loved you both. May she Rest In Peace.
Louise Nadeau Beaulieu
Feb 12, 2020
Dear Erika and Monika, so sorry to hear about your dear Mom. She was certainly very proud of both you Ladies. Erika, I worked with you in Madawaska. You were so creative! And Monika, I heard about all your travels from Erika! Peace be with you both---
Tammy Bernier
Feb 12, 2020
What a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful lady!
Randi Jandreau
Feb 11, 2020
My sympathies go out to you two girls, especially Erika. I so remember your mom and how tirelessly she worked to keep you working toward the best life possible for you. I read you are doing just that. I am so proud of you! Take care and God Bless both of you. Randi
Denise Guy Jandreau
Feb 11, 2020
Dear girls I'm sorry to hear of your lost I don't know if you'll remember but I use to baby sit you when you lived in Fort Kent sending condolences
Stephen Gagne
Feb 11, 2020
Dear Erika and Monika,
Please accept our deepest sympathy and condolences on the loss of your Mom. We wish you and your Mom's family the fondest memories of this wonderful lady who we remember as a tireless advocate for the rights of so many. May she rest in well deserved peace! God bless! - Stephen & Diane Gagne
Gerda Sirois
Feb 11, 2020
In memory of my long time friend I have been searching for . So sorry girls. Always keep in mind, she was special. Thinking of you with prayers.