Robert & Hertha Solmitz together at Blankanese


   Hertha Elisabeth Solmitz née Goldschmidt and Robert Mortiz Solmitz Archive




Ursula Osborne

Ursula Osborne came into this world during the late 1920s in Hamburg, Germany. She was raised by her father who practiced law and her mother who practiced horticulture. Ursula fondly remembers her childhood walks to a nearby farm where she picked fruits and flowers with her family.

Ursula moved to England the month after Kristallnacht with her sister, Ruth, and brother, Martin. In 1941 their parents were able to travel to the United States in search of a new life. Three years later Ursula and her sister reconnected with their parents in Los Angeles; their brother had died in England.

When Ursula settled in Los Angeles with her family in 1944, she was eager to continue her schooling. She enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) as a Chemistry major and Math minor. Little did she know that learning and teaching would soon become her lifelong passion. While studying at U.C.L.A. Ursula joined the Ski Club where she learned how to ski in the nearby San Bernardino Mountains. Having acted in plays while attending school in England, she joined U.C.L.A.’s Campus Theater club.

Soon after graduating, Ursula married her college boyfriend Clyde E. Osborne, Jr. After living in the United States for five years and marrying, Ursula gained her American citizenship. Shortly after she got a job as a chemical lab technician in U.C. Berkeley’s physiology department. A year later she moved to Madison, Wisconsin with her husband. In Wisconsin, Ursula worked as a research lab technician for two scientific laboratories. Her work ranged from chemical enzyme studies to muscle research. Ursula’s contribution to muscle research was recognized in a scientific paper published by her employer.

After moving from Wisconsin to Indiana in 1953, Ursula gave birth to her first son – Stan, while their second son, Neal, joined the family in 1955. When Stan was four months old Ursula landed a job for cancerous tissue research at the Indiana University Medical School. Throughout her post-collegiate years Ursula continually fueled her passion for science and learning.

When Ursula could not find a nursery school to her liking, she organized a cooperative nursery school. In 1957 the family moved to Long Beach, California. While studying for her teaching credential at Long Beach State University Ursula, worked at local nursery schools. By 1965, Ursula began teaching chemistry at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. Soon enough, Ursula’s colleagues began to notice her exceptional teaching skills, and recommended that she join the G.A.T.E. (Gifted And Talented Education program.). At G.A.T.E., Ursula taught enrichment programs in science, German, math and computers.

In 1984, Ursula packed up her bags and moved to Humboldt County in search of new opportunities. Two years after moving she landed a job as a special needs aide for a student with learning disabilities. The experience was so rewarding that she continued her friendship with the student even after the teaching period ended. Having taught for nearly two decades, Ursula began her retirement. Ursula considers joining the Peace Corps in 1996 as the “frosting of her career”. She taught science and chemistry for two years to 10th, 11th and 12th graders in Papua New Guinea. During her Peace Corps training, Ursula learned about the country’s customs and how to speak Melanesian Pidgin. Nowadays Ursula enjoys tending to her garden and frequenting the local library for new books to read. Her dreams at night are full of visions where she’s in a classroom teaching kids or assisting teachers. She reflected on her life, “I’m at a place where I’m grateful I had a life and saw what I saw and learned what I learned.”

Written by Henry Faust, February 2016, Arcata, California.