Ursula H.K. McAuley (nee Neubecker) of Odenton, Maryland died quietly in bed June 17, 2022, from congestive heart failure. She was 95 years old, and lived independently and actively until April 2022 when she broke her kneecap in a fall. She is survived by her three sons, Patrick, Clyde (“Ted”), and Michael, as well as seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. In her native Germany she is survived by her dear brother, Hermann Neubecker of Stadt Dreieich and her nieces and nephews in Germany and Ireland.
Ursula was born into a prominent family in a small German town, but Hitler gained power when she was six years old, and life became increasingly difficult as Germany became a Nazi state. She was twelve when World War II began, but even though life became harsher she continued college preparatory schooling which required a long bicycle commute to Frankfurt. Although she didn’t like to talk about the war years, her town was bombed frequently, and she was once strafed on the highway to Frankfurt.
After WWII, Ursula became an interpreter and librarian for the U.S. Army in Frankfurt. There she met Lt. Edward McAuley of New York City and Northern Ireland, and they were married in 1948 in Frankfurt. Soon after her wedding the McAuleys were transferred to Fort Jackson, SC. She became a U.S. citizen in 1950, which she described as one of the proudest moments of her life. Over the course of Edward McAuley‘s 29-year Army career, in which he rose to Lt. Colonel, the growing family moved geographically nine times. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Ursula was the head of household for long periods while her husband was deployed to the warzone.
During her busy years as an “Army wife” Ursula not only raised her three sons and did most of the work in re-establishing the household after each move, but she was actively involved in community service, especially as a volunteer at Army clinics and hospitals. She continued her volunteer work at Kimbrough Hospital in Fort Meade for nearly a decade after Lt. Col. McAuley retired. She also taught German classes part-time, at the American International School of New Delhi, India, at the Fort Meade Education Center, and at the Goethe Institute in Teheran, Iran.
Although military transfers required uprooting every two years or so, Ursula made the most of “Army life” and chose to view every move as an opportunity for the family to experience a new state or country in depth. She easily made new friends, both military and civilian, at each new location, and the family made frequent excursions to see as much of each place as practical.
In 1965 Lt. Col. McAuley was posted to Fort Meade and the family moved to Odenton, Maryland, which became her residence for most of the rest of her life. In the 1970s as her sons grew older she was able to complete her college education, which had been interrupted by war and frequent moves. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland Graduate School. She was in her fifties when she became a professor of German at Anne Arundel Community College. Her Conversational German course in particular was popular with continuing education students and military personnel who were expecting assignments to Germany. Her classes were well attended, and the college administration continually asked her to keep teaching until she was nearly 80 years old when she insisted on retiring.
During her last decades Ursula lived proudly independent in Piney Orchard in Odenton in her roomy townhouse. She could drive well at age 94 but was careful to drive only in daylight and for short distances. She had an active social life with fellow retired military wives, friendly neighbors, German-American friends, the Bowie Singles group, the Fort Meade Garden club, and various hiking and other groups. She was a loving mother and had a rule that her family must be first priority, and she was beloved by three generations as ‘Mom’, ’Nana’, ‘Tante Uschi’, ‘Aunt Ursula’. Among the many fond memories that her granddaughters hold are her fragrant rose gardens, her love for language and arts, her appreciation of beauty, her giving and enthusiasm, and her grace as a hostess.
A public service celebrating the life of Ursula McAuley will be held June 3 at 1:00 pm in the chapel of the Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory, P.A.
Ursula’s inurnment will be at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, her family asks that you consider donations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
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