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Ilse (Söhnel) Constable
December 30, 1939 ~ August 29, 2023 (age 83) 83 Years Old
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Ilse Constable, 83, of Torrington passed away peacefully Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at Litchfield Woods Health Care Center.
Born on December 30, 1939, in Malé Heraltice, Czech Republic, Ilse was the youngest daughter of the late Otto and Rudolfine Söhnel. A long-time volunteer and elected officer at Winsted’s Valley Thrift Shop, she is remembered for her giving spirit, community service, and renowned cooking and baking skills.
Ilse was born in the Sudetenland just nine months after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. She and her two sisters were raised by a relative, possibly her father’s sister, she knew only as “Oma.”
As Russia moved to seize control of Czechoslovakia after World War II, Oma and the girls fled the country aboard a cattle train bound for Germany. They left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and were taken in by a farmer who employed Oma as a cook.
Following in her Oma’s footsteps, Ilse learned to cook and eventually ended up working at a U.S. Army base in Neu-Ulm, Germany in the early 1960s. There, she met Jim Constable, a young soldier from upstate New York. The two fell in love and were married on June 20, 1963.
Jim’s 20-year military career carried the family across the country and included two tours in Vietnam. During this time, Ilse was dedicated to raising their four children — her life’s work.
When Jim retired from the service in 1980, they settled in Torrington. Ilse became involved with Valley Thrift Shop, a nonprofit then based in New Hartford. Over the years, she volunteered for the organization in numerous capacities and served as its co-vice president.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ilse was reunited with her father. She spent nearly 60 years happily married to Jim until he passed in April of this year, with the two logging countless road trips and travels together to every part of the world.
Ilse is survived by her children, Andreas A. “Andy” Constable and his wife, Sue, of Barrington, RI; James D. Constable Jr. and his wife, Sherri, of Tifton, GA; and Robert Constable of Keene, NH; and Patricia “Patty” Bailly and her husband, Roger, of Toccoa, GA; and six grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Jim, and her sisters, Anna and Brunhilde.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday, September 5, 2023, from 3 to 3:45 p.m. at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home, 258 Prospect St., Torrington. Visiting hours are 2:30 until the time of service.