December 2 2011

First SOS mother worldwide dies aged 92

02/12/2011 - We are mourning the loss of one of our "pioneers". 60 years ago, Maria Weber became the first SOS mother at the very first SOS Children's Village in the world in Imst in Austria - a job that would be her calling for the rest of her life. And she never regretted it once: "I would do it all again in a second." Maria Weber passed away on 30 November at the age of 92.

Photo: SOS Archives
Maria Weber with "her" children in Imst - Photo: SOS Archives
Born on 3 May 1919 in Deutschkreutz in Austria, the daughter to farmers moved to Vienna where she completed a three-year training to become an assistant in a parish. In Tyrol, where she took her first job, she received direct mails from Hermann Gmeiner, the founder of SOS Children's Villages.

"I donated 3.60 shillings towards the building of the 'Christmas House', one of the family houses of the first SOS Children’s Village that was being planned at the time. I actually helped to lay the foundation stone of the house in which I started to work as an SOS mother in 1951," Weber once said.

Photo: SOS Archives
Maria Weber at her 90th birthday in Hinterbrühl - Photo: SOS Archives
In 1957, she moved to the new SOS Children's Village in Hinterbrühl near Vienna where she worked for the next 20 years. She retired in 1977 and lived in the "mother house" within the SOS Children's Village, a house for retired SOS mothers. Maria Weber raised more than 20 children with whom she maintained close contact until her death, including her 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Vitality and humility, humour, charitable nature and deep faith were the character traits that made up the basis for Maria Weber's rich and fulfilled life.