Erna Voss Kuhns, 96, died Friday, April 6, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz., after a long and full life, with her family surrounding her. The youngest of six brothers and sisters, she was born near Aachen, Germany, Sept. 14, 1915, to Abraham and Esther Rohr Lucas.
Among her countless accomplishments, she owned a business, did public speaking, taught cooking classes and volunteered as a speech therapist - even with the German accent we all loved so much.
She married Rudy Voss in 1938 and together they fled Germany as the war began. Sponsored by an aunt and uncle, they took a boat to New York and soon settled in Erie, Pa. They raised their three daughters there, and the whole family was active in the local Jewish community, attending Temple Anshe Hesed. She and Rudy had a successful grocery store that Erna took over when Rudy died in 1967 - surprising herself with her good business sense. Her intuition, guts, innovative spirit and sense of trust quickly earned her the title of the "shrewdest business person in Erie."
Erna Voss Kuhns
She started another flourishing phase of her life when she married Harry Kuhns in 1971. They spent many wonderful years living in Cape Coral. Harry passed away in 2007, just a few months after they moved to Tucson. Erna continued to make her home at Broadway Proper Retirement Community, where she made many friends.
She is survived by her three daughters, Eleanor Goff, Mimi (Stuart) Rose and Doreen (Tom) Giles; grandchildren, Jon (Chris) Goff, Randi (Mike) Lee, Stephanie (Bob) Rose and Sally (Ario) Giles; and great-grandchildren, Sean and Hannah Goff, and Olivia and Connor Lee. Surviving also are numerous nieces and nephews.
Over the years, she had close relationships with several people who have looked upon her as their "second" mother or grandmother, either through marriage or friendship.
The family is grateful to Susie Espinoza for her skill, compassion, patience and love.
Erna's strong faith in God, consistent positive outlook, common sense and adaptability served her well throughout her life. These qualities also made her a magnet for people who needed a sympathetic ear and good advice. She charmed people with her inquisitiveness and sense of humor - which was why friends would continue to play cards with her even though she almost always beat them. She had a great stock of stories from her life to tell us, and the jokes she told were even funnier when she'd burst into laughter before getting to the punch line.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Temple Anshe Hesed in Erie, Pa., or the charity of your choice.