Stefanie Hildegard Tanis

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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Duck – Stefanie Hildegard Weidinger Tanis, 83, passed away April 20, 2023, at Norfolk General Hospital. Born in Crimmitschau, Saxony, Germany on October 23, 1939. She was predeceased by her parents, Paul Karl Weidinger and Hildegard Fehse Weidinger. Growing up in East Germany she was enamored with textiles but after her father’s death she escaped the rigors of Communism by herself at age 16 to seek freedom. Stefanie’s strikingly good looks combined with intensely blue eyes caught the attention of fashion houses. She became a model appearing in shows in Frankfurt, Paris and Milan and other European fashion centers.

While in the United States she met and married a young Special Forces officer, David Tanis. They had two children, Colette (Bruce) Griffin and Stephen (Richard) Tanis. After her husband was severely wounded in combat in Viet Nam, she turned her attention to his rehabilitation and the raising of her children. After her husband finished law school in Winston-Salem, Stefanie used her background in fashion and textiles to begin a storied career working at the Shop of the Ragpicker – a local, high fashion boutique in Winston-Salem. There she grew a loyal clientele who trusted her fashion expertise to dress and style them, building many lifelong friendships along the way.

Later in life, Stefanie began to teach conversational German at the local community college and was recruited by Wake Forest University to teach the German Language and German Literature where her vivaciousness, energy, and love for the language captivated her students. Her classes were often interspersed with fascinating personal tales and shared real-life experiences.

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Stefanie is survived by her husband, two children, and two grandchildren, Samantha Donley of Bellevue, Kentucky, and Stephen Griffin of Winston-Salem. Stefanie was always elegant with a love for fashion, beauty, cooking, and entertaining. As an expert cook and baker, she often expressed her love to family and friends through lavish meals, ending with a plethora of wonderful homemade pastries, and always accompanied by her hearty laugh and warmth.

An avid lover of nature and animals, Stefanie made sure to care for the local feral felines, and any possums or raccoons that happened by. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Feline Hope, via No services are planned. Please share condolences with the family at Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements.