November 16, 2010
FORESTVILLE: Linda (Ilja) Raag died peacefully at home on November 14, 2010. Born on February 6, 1921 in Rouge, Russia, she and her ten siblings grew up in Voru, Estonia. Linda graduated from the gumnaasium system and studied dance at the Voru City Theater, performing as a prima ballerina. After World War II, Linda and her daughter Tiina immigrated to New York City where she worked as a tailor in a Fifth Avenue women's clothing store. Linda's future husband, Hans Raag, followed a year later after completing his medical degree in Erlangen, Germany.
Those who knew Linda only during her time in Chautauqua County may not be familiar with her dramatic and heroic escape from Estonia in advance of the Russian occupation. Making her way on foot with her young daughter, they survived months of bombings and chaos until eventually finding safety in the American controlled section of West Germany. While living in refugee camps in difficult conditions, survivors attempted to brighten their spirits by organizing music and dance performances. Linda choreographed ballets and created beautiful costumes from scarce resources utilizing things such as camouflage net.
Linda and Hans married in New York City and settled in Forestville, where Hans assumed a medical practice at 26 Main Street. The Raags were talented tennis players, skiers, and ballroom dancers who shared their love of sports and music with their children and grandchildren. People who knew Linda were struck by her vitality, generosity and warmth. As a refugee welcomed by the community of Western New York, Linda spent the rest of her life sharing the blessings of hospitality with others.
Linda is survived by her sister Vaike Ilja of Tartu, Estonia; her three children, Tiina Wilson of Mariposa, California, Hans Raag of Berkeley, California, and Mihkel Raag of Forestville; and three granddaughters, Alexandra Wilson, Catherine Wilson, and Lydia Raag.
Linda was predeceased by her parents, Karl Ilja and Anna Pappa Ilja; her first husband, Olaf Keskull; her second husband, Hans Raag; her son-in-law Daniel Wilson, and nine of her siblings.
She was a member of the Brooks Hospital and Tri-County Hospital Physician Wives Committee, the Estonian Lutheran Church in Buffalo, and attended the First United Presbyterian Church in Silver Creek, New York.
Friends are welcome to call at the Riles & Woolley Funeral Home, 39 Main Street, Forestville on Wednesday evening from 7-9 pm. Funeral Services will be held Thursday morning at 11 o'clock, from the First United Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek, with Rev. Thomas Burian, pastor and Rev. Dr. Mervin Fry, officiating. Interment will follow in the Forestville Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations may be made to the First United Presbyterian Church, 35 Park Place, Silver Creek, NY 14136. To send condolences go to www.rilesandwoolleyfuneralhome.com.
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