ELSA JEAN KOMINITSKY
January 27, 1931 – April 23, 2022
Elsa Jean Kominitsky (Wildermuth), age 91, of Bakersfield, CA passed away peacefully on April 23, 2022 in Bakersfield where she resided for 60 years. Elsa Jean Wildermuth was born on January 27, 1931 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota to Charles R. Wildermuth and Doris L. (Barnes) Wildermuth. Elsa was born on the Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota and spent her earliest years there where her father taught school until his untimely death in 1932. Upon the death of her father, her mother Doris had to raise 4 children during the Depression alone, which led her to return to be near family in Plano, Illinois. Elsa, like her siblings, was raised in Plano where she attended elementary and high school.
Elsa attended Graceland Junior College in Lamoni, Iowa to begin her studies, then she transferred to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri, where she majored in Physical Education and Education and received her BS degree. She taught Physical Education in Lamoni, Iowa, then in Palmdale, California. It was in Lancaster, California, where Elsa met Russell Kominitsky, the love of her life. A year prior to his Honorable Discharge from the US Air Force, Elsa and Russell Russ married on June 29, 1958 in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. The headline for their marriage announcement in an Independence, Missouri newspaper was, Air Force Vet Claims Bride in California. After marrying, Elsa and Russ lived in Fresno, California where Russ attended and graduated from Fresno State University and Elsa taught Physical Education. Shortly after Russ’s graduation, both Elsa and Russ obtained teaching jobs in Bakersfield, CA. Russ started teaching at South High School while Elsa first taught at East High School, and then at West High School, where she was a founding faculty member when the school opened in 1965. Elsa taught in the Kern High School District, mostly at West High School, for 25 years. Upon her retirement in 1989, she signed up to do substitute teaching for 10 more years.
Elsa was known as Mrs. K at West High School. She was a dedicated, innovative and much-loved teacher. Her lively personality, upbeat nature and talent for teaching Physical Education delighted her students. Recently, many of her former students added comments to her 91st birthday post on Hoffmann Hospice’s Facebook page. Several notable comments, among 72 posted, such as, I LOVED Ms. Kominitsky!!…She was always so delightful and upbeat!!! Please give her a hug from me!; I remember her fondly. She was a great teacher kind, competent, personable. Thank you for teaching and being a positive influence in the lives of so many students! Happy Birthday!; Happy Birthday Miss Kominitsky! You made our Physical Ed class so fun and always had a beautiful smile on your face. Enjoy a wonderful celebration today! and Yes! She was one of my absolute favorite teachers at West High! She made PE fun. Happy Birthday Miss Kay! You are loved and adored by so many of your former students! So happy to see this post, it really made my day! What better tribute to a great teacher 33 years after her retirement!
Elsa’s faith was deeply important to her throughout her life. Having been raised in the Community of Christ Church (formerly RLDS), Elsa enjoyed being active in the local Bakersfield Community of Christ congregation. She was involved in many aspects of her church’s ongoing operations and community activities. She loved teaching Sunday school and was delighted to work with the children. Elsa also participated in worship at other churches in Bakersfield throughout the years.
Elsa also enjoyed her active participation and membership in the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield for 30 years. She served on many committees at the Woman’s Club and was especially fond of organizing and participating in the Festival of Trees event. In 2010, she received the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield’s Beth Dye Henley Award for her enthusiastic faithfulness and participation in the progress of the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield and for excellence in all things. She was also an active member in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International that promotes the professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. She enjoyed serving on many committees and planning events she was part of in this educational sorority.
For many years, Elsa and Russ loved to travel on cruises as their favorite type of vacation enjoying the Caribbean, Hawaii, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal, Europe and Asia. Over the years, they also drove across the United States on summer vacations numerous times to visit relatives back East and in the Midwest.
Elsa was preceded in death by her husband Russ in 2021 as well as her 3 siblings, in earlier years: Blair L. Wildermuth, Charles R. Wildermuth, Helene M. Coleman and her parents, Doris and Charles Wildermuth. She leaves behind her niece, Jo Lynn (Raymond) Lunger and her nephew, Mark (Claire Huang) Wildermuth, as well as other nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Her dear friend Diane Smizer also survives her.
With deep gratitude, Elsa Kominitsky’s niece, Jo Lynn Lunger, and nephew, Mark Wildermuth would like to thank the wonderful caregivers and staff members at The Pointe at Summit Hills, assisted living facility in Bakersfield, who took excellent care of Elsa during her residence there . Russ, her husband, was also a resident there until he passed in 2021. Many caregivers at The Pointe grew fond of Elsa and her energetic nature and friendly personality. The family also thanks the Hoffman Hospice caregivers for the wonderful care they provided for her over the last year. The family also wishes to thank Susan Wilson and Laura Stockton, caretakers and friends, who have dedicated themselves to overseeing the Kominitskys’ care for several years, and Reide Garnett and Joanne Schmidt, dear friends and fellow retired educators.
A Celebration of Life service will take place on Wednesday, June 15 at 2pm at the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield, 2030 18th Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301.
(661) 325-7889. Website: https://www.womensclubbakersfield.org
In Elsa Kominitsky’s memory, donations may be made to the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield.
Burial at the Bakersfield National Cemetery will take place at a later date.
Published by Bakersfield Californian from Jun. 9 to Jun. 12, 2022.
34465541-95D0-45B0-BEEB-B9E0361A315ATo plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.