Hedda Windisch von Goeben was an equestrienne, artist, and world traveler. She was curious, enthusiastic, and disciplined, sharing her intelligence and generosity with the multitude of friends she cultivated around the world. She died Oct. 8 in Granville, Ohio at 90 years of age after a brief illness.
Friends describe her as unique - loyal, fun, meticulous, persistent, and giving- a class act- gifted as a horseperson and artist, ready with a smile, outspoken and no pushover. Her unstinting philanthropy throughout her life included cherished educational communities, artists and museums, churches in need of restoration or renovation and individuals who needed a leg up.
Born in Greenwich, CT, on March 8, 1931, of Margaret and Carl von Goeben, Hedda pursued horses and art. From the early 1950s, after graduating from Westover School in CT and Bennett College in NY, she was a horse breeder and a trainer of both horses and students. She also judged horse shows and fox hunted along the East Coast, even across the formidable fields of Ireland. Until 1970, she operated from her family’s Church Hill Farm in Washington, CT. From 1958 to 1966, she also managed the equestrian program at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, while earning her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences cum laude from the University of Hartford. For 40 years, until 2004, she considered herself a worker bee for the Professional Horsemen’s Association. She was secretary under five presidents for the group she described as “horsemen helping horsemen.” And from its start in 1950, she remained a loyal supporter of the United States Equestrian Team.
A visit to the Elkhorn Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona in the 1950s introduced Hedda to ranch life and the Sonoran Desert country of the Altar Valley. She returned through the years, and even in her 80s, she’d ride up into the Baboquivari Mountains. Hedda credited an Elderhostel trip to Australia and New Zealand with her yearning to see the world. So, in her final decades, when others often slow, she traveled the globe seeking the unusual and historic in the countryside of such places as Japan, South Africa, Peru and Greenland. Ever the artist, she’d often return with folk art from the streets. She became a frequent traveler with the Carriage Association of America, blending her wanderlust with her love of horses. She attended the annual Windsor Horse Show in London at least five times. Even more often, she could be found at the annual week-long Festival of the Gauchos in Argentina – an event highlighted by a parade of 4,000 horses, some ridden and many more loose, negotiating narrow, cobbled streets in a unique demonstration of horsemanship.
Hedda also became a frequent participant on trips led by the late Yale University Professor Brian Skinner. She was proudly a ‘Skinnerite,” one of the gregarious travelers that Skinner led from Russia to Machu Picchu.
At 75, Hedda relocated from Connecticut to Granville, Ohio, to be closer to her extended family, whose roots are in Cincinnati's historic Windisch-Muhlhauser Brewing Company. She was a fourth generation relation to Conrad Windisch, who, in 1866, with Gottlieb and Heinrich Muhlhauser, all German immigrants, founded the brewery that was known as the Lion Brewery. She became instrumental in gathering the relatives to Cincinnati, organizing and funding numerous family reunions. Throughout her life, in her art, Hedda nimbly moved among media, from drawings, watercolors, printmaking and ceramics to photography and bronze sculpture. She also revealed her playful and sometimes, spunky humor.
Once in Granville, she returned to the art studio and to college, enrolling in semester- long art classes at nearby Denison University. She worked alongside coeds in the studio for much of the past fifteen years and taught a summer art course there for senior citizens. Encouraging to both young and older artists, Hedda said her goal was to help them feel good about their work. But it was not just artists she helped. Her energy and her eagerness to continue learning inspired so many who knew her. Hedda lived fully every day.
Her sister, Christine Curtis, predeceased Ms. von Goeben. She leaves three nephews, Carl Gavin, Allen Richard and Robert Frederick Curtis.
A memorial service will be held at noon on October 27th at St Luke’s Church, 107 E. Broadway, Granville, Ohio. A graveside service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on November 3, 2021 at Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.mcpeekhoekstra.com.
To send flowers to Hedda's family, please visit our floral store.