Ursula Wohnlich (1942 – 2012)

Ursula Wohnlich was born in Hannover, Germany, in 1942 in the midst of World War II. Her father, Josef Wohnlich, was Swiss and her mother, Else was German. Ursula had a brother, Hans (Johannes) Wohnlich.
At the end of the war the family moved to Switzerland where they started again. Ursula did quite well at intermediate high school and was accepted into a course at EMPA (Swiss Materials Science Institute) in St Gallen where she completed a laboratory technicians course specialising in Textile Testing. Ursula subsequently worked at EMPA as a textile testing laboratory technician.
In 1970 Ursula migrated to Australia. She knew Australia had sheep, so she figured it would also have a large textile industry – and she was right, at that time. Having arrived in Sydney and established herself in a single room flat in Surrey Hills she was lucky enough to get a job at the University of New South Wales in the School of Textile Technology. Initially she worked in the yarn laboratories on annual Wool Corporation funding. Over the 27 years Ursula worked in the School of Textile Technology she was involved in a number of areas including yarn manufacture, textile testing and textile physics, firstly as a technical officer and later as a senior technical officer.


With her perfectionist Swiss attitude and her determination to do her utmost for the students she was always an asset to the school. But the thing which gave her the biggest thrill at work was the opportunity to run the industrial scale machines which fell under her command. It was in this domain that she met Michael Young and, after they had worked together for several years, they decided to team up outside their work place and soon purchased a home at Maroubra near the University.
Ursula loved to travel to exotic places and was a keen observer of foreign cultures. Over the years Ursula managed to travel to Nepal, China, Mongolia, the USSR, Argentina, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan among others. But her greatest love was to travel in the Australian outback. Her delight in that much denigrated but stoic and long suffering animal, the camel, is legendary and her various treks with camel trains in outback Australia were a highlight of her life. In fact she even managed to ride a bactrian, or two humped camel, in the remote west of China.
Apart from travelling, Ursula was able to pursue her interests in textile handicrafts at which she excelled and was able to advance these skills through workshops at the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild NSW of which she was a member for many years. Over the past 4 or 5 years she managed to make about 20 blankets for Wrapped with Love. Some of these were woven while others were knitted, but all exhibited the same meticulous attention to detail which she had always brought to her work in textile technology.

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