Melba Kraft

melba kraft
Melba Jane Pape Kraft March 12, 1934 – January 1, 2023 Melba Jane Pape Henk Kraft stepped into eternity on January 1, 2023 in her home at the age of 88 years. Melba was born March 12, 1934 at home in Hancock, TX to Ottmar Pape and Loni Kaderli Pape, the third of 3 daughters. Her sisters Nora Pape and Roma Pape Kaderli preceded her in death, as did her parents. Melba married Bruno R Henk “B.R.” June 23, 1951. Anyone who knew B.R. and Melba knew of their deep love for each other. About town, they were always seen holding hands. B.R. and Melba had two children, Deborah and Tyrone. B.R. passed from this life way too soon at only 47 years old on February 10, 1969. Melba married her second husband, Hilmar Kraft, November 1, 1971. They remained married until his death on October 10, 1995. One of her many hobbies included shooting rifles, taught at a young age by her Papa. Every year, B.R. and Melba tagged their limit of white tail deer, harvested on her parent’s property. Every ounce of venison went into sausage which they processed entirely by themselves. B.R. built a small smokehouse in their back yard, and Melba tended smoking the sausage. Their family enjoyed a large supply of dried sausage year-round. By far, Melba’s favorite pastime was bowling. She began bowling early in life in nearby Fischer Bowling Alley, and was quite proficient, garnishing many, many trophies, the first of which she won at just 13 years old. The trophy was in the shape of a bowling ball, and opened up to reveal a whiskey carafe and shot glasses and played the German tune, “Mein Hut Der Hat Drei Echen” (My Hat, It Has Three Corners). That trophy is still in her home today. Her game was the original nine-pin “kegel” which originated in Germany. Many nine-pin houses are scattered throughout the Texas German settlements, and it is safe to bet that Melba bowled in prize bowling competitions at least once in them all. Her adventures in bowling took her to Switzerland, where she won the title of "World's Best Woman Bowler". She was very proud of that title. Growing up in a German home, she learned the traditional dances of the waltz, the polka, the schottische and the landler. She had a keyboard accordion and entertained her family playing the beloved German music. Melba and her Papa also played the cornet together. Crocheting was a skill learned early by her mother’s side. Her home was decorated with many beautiful doilies which were starched into fancy shapes. She gifted her grandchildren with colorful warm afghans. She also crocheted and knitted scarves for her family. Sewing was also a valuable hobby, as she sewed clothes for herself, her husband and her children. Her artistic talent was on display in the early 1950’s. She acquired a job working at Seidel Studio, owned and operated by photographer Rudy Seidel. He took family portraits in black and white. Melba’s job as one of the hand colorists was to color the photos to look as though they had been taken in color. The photos were on display in the studio’s large windows. It was customary for people to drive there at night and look at the most recent pictures. At home, she used map colors to sketch her parakeet, Mr. Peepers. That drawing is a treasured possession in her home. A few years later, she began trying her hand at oil painting. Looking at 3” x 5” black and white photos she had taken, she painted 25” x 30” landscapes. Her favorite scenes to paint were the familiar Texas Hill Country. The framed paintings grace the walls of her home. After the death of her husband, “B.R.”, she went back to work. That resulted in her getting her hair professionally styled every week. That hairstyle remained her signature look. Her most well-known job was driving school bus for both NBISD and Comal ISD. Her passengers would greet her in the grocery store long after they graduated high school. One former passenger acquired her phone number and occasionally called her or sent her a text message. His last message to her was just days after her passing. Upon finding out she had passed, he said he had just a few days prior told a friend about her and how she impacted his life. Greeting those passengers about town was a source of pride in her life. She enjoyed being remembered as their bus driver. As mentioned before, her first bird was a blue parakeet named “Mr. Peepers”. She also had a yellow canary that sang a beautiful melody. She also had 2 lovebirds and numerous cockatiels. Always one bird at a time, as it was her constant companion, riding her shoulder throughout the day as she performed her daily household duties. Her love for birds included all birds outdoors. She had pet peacocks and enjoyed using their colorful feathers to decorate hats and other items around her home. In her later years, she had a bird bath and bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder just outside the window by her favorite chair. She and her cockatiel “Happy” enjoyed the many birds that visited daily. Melba is survived by her daughter Deborah Henk and her son Tyrone Henk. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Joe Scholl, Jr (Nikki), Danica Carpenter (Kevin), Tami Roden (Johnny), Denise Henk, Sabrina Henk and Shane Henk (Krystal), Additionally surviving her are her great grandchildren, Jeremy Coots, Caleb Carpenter, Alyssa Hopper, Jayden Hopper, Sadie Carpenter, Sofia DeWeese, Bastain Henk, Jaxon Scholl, Ellis Roden, Marshall DeWeese and Collin Henk. Her grandchildren who knew her as "Omie" looked forward to eating her German sweet rice and cucumber salad. Family gatherings were not complete without these beloved dishes. They also enjoyed Omie's Kochkase and smoked venison sausage. They learned to make these dishes, and will continue the tradition for family meals. Our family would like to thank Christus Santa Rosa Hospice for the care they provided in Melba’s last days. Special thanks to nurse Lori as she guided us to easing Melba’s discomfort as she transitioned to eternity. Because Melba was proud of her association with Texas Farm Bureau Insurance, we request that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to their scholarship fund which is awarded to local future farmers and ranchers. Their office is at 945 Loop 337, New Braunfels, TX 78130. You may also contact them at 830-625-6924. "Auf wiedersehen, Omie! Wir lieben diech! Bis wir uns wieder treffen!" We will celebrate Melba doing what she loved best – BOWLING! Please join us on Saturday, May 20th at Mission Valley Bowling Alley. Bring your bowling gear and your favorite potluck dish to share. We’ll be there from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. We look forward to hearing your memories of Melba.

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  1. Debbie and Tyrone and Family,
    Know we are thinking of you and lifting your family up in prayer today and in the days to come.
    Leigh Ann Kanz Lorenz

  2. I remember living next door to the Henk’s on Becker Street, wonderful neighbors and had a lot of fun times.

  3. Melba filled my heart with such joy. What a blessing she was to all who knew her. Thank you God for sharing her with us. She will be greatly missed!

  4. I had a really good time with Melba at the family Reunion in 2022 at our St. Paul Chapel where I took her around in the Cake Walk ! I think she was grinning the whole time !!! I remember all the years she came to the Reunions !!! ❤️Erna Lou

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