Passed August 2, 2023
Last updated 10/31/2023 at 10:29am
On August 2, 2023, our matriarch, Gudrun Kibak, of Sisters, passed away in her 99th year, at home.
Deeply beloved wife, mother, Grandmother, and great grandmother, Gudrun lived a truly adventurous life. Born Gudrun Førslev in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1924, she spent her childhood roaming the King's Forest in Northern Zealand close to the coast of the North Sea.
During World War II, she and her family endured the German occupation. They risked their lives in the heroic successful national effort to save Danish Jews from Hitler. Her parents hid families in her basement before they escaped to Sweden in small fishing boats. When asked if she and her family had not feared for their lives, Gudrun replied: "No, it was simply the only decent thing one could do, all Danes were onboard."
After high school she worked on a big farm for a year, learning to cook for 60 farm hands. Next, as she studied to be a nurse in Copenhagen, Gudrun continued aiding the anti-Nazi resistance by hiding saboteurs in a psych ward she had access to, from the Gestapo. If she had been caught, she knew the penalty would have been torture and death.
After the war Gudrun sailed to Canada to work as a nurse in Montreal. She then hitchhiked across Canada with a friend to Vancouver where she worked in another hospital. In those years, she visited her four-star Air Force general father in Washington, D.C. ,where he was Denmark's attaché to NATO. Together, she, her father, and his wife drove across the continent and became the first civilians to drive the entire graveled Alaskan Hwy. Another epic road trip took them from Washington D.C. to Mexico City.
Ever intrepid, Gudrun then took a bus alone to NYC. She heard Mariann Anderson sing and, solo, she enjoyed a rollicking night at the Apollo.
In 1952-53 she joined the medical team on the Danish hospital ship Jutlandia. She sailed to Istanbul and then around the world to Korea to care for the sick and wounded during the Korean war. The letters from American servicemen thanking her are as entertaining as they are sweet. After returning to Denmark from Korea she traveled to South America. In Colombia she married Kristian Kibæk, a young Danish engineer who had fought in the partisan resistance to Nazis. He was working on a tunnel and dam project near Cali, Columbia.
The young couple left Colombia for Colorado. They moved to California, where they spent the next 23 years in La Jolla raising their two children, Henrik and Susanne. In 1977, they bought an alfalfa ranch out on Lower Bridge Road west of Terrebonne. They operated the ranch together with the Lawrence and Blaylock families for several years. To assist her daughter Susanne, who was starting a tile company in Sisters, Gudrun took over Kibak Fine Design, the retail outlet, in 1984, which she ran for the next 10 years.
A devoted grandmother, she experienced the joy of helping guide five rambunctious grandchildren to adulthood. In 1998, she moved from Lower Bridge up to Sisters, where she lived for 25 years. She kept busy in the Sisters community by volunteering extensively with Habitat for Humanity, winning their service award in 2010. Her only regret in life was not learning how to speak Spanish.
Gudrun is survived by two children, Henrik Kibak of Marina, California, and Susanne Kibak Redfield of Sisters; seven grandchildren, Kris Kibak, Kaj Kibak, Ryder Redfield, Stefan Redfield, Carli Redfield Strachan, Danielle Braun, and Stav Braun; and six great-grandchildren, many living now in the Lower Bridge area, the area their grandparents loved so well.