Celebrating Charlotte: Charlotte Gerson’s 90th Birthday Party
On Sunday, March 25th, 170 wellness-minded, forward-thinking, and positive people from across the globe gathered together in one place for a very special occasion: Charlotte Gerson’s 90th birthday celebration. It was a beautiful evening filled with warm tributes, good friends, music and lots of carrot juice!
The theme for the evening was The Fruits of Her Labor, which from very humble beginnings have grown to include: the establishment of the Gerson Institute, whose team of 25 serve as information specialists, disseminators, and ambassadors for those interested in learning about the Gerson Therapy; the clinics in Mexico and Hungary, which provide a warm, comprehensive, and rigorous start to individual journeys in healing; the workshops and training sessions, which bring professionals and non-professionals alike from all over the world to study the Therapy in greater detail, so that they may incorporate its principles into their lives and communities; the wonderful, practical, plainspoken books she has written, which allow laypersons to begin the journey to healing from their own homes; and, certainly, the most important fruit of all — the countless sick who have been restored to health through her vim and vigor.
Charlotte was joined by her family, including her daughter Peggy, her son Howard Straus. Her granddaughter Francesca Dego, a professional violinist from Italy, graced us with a performance, along with her accompanist Francesca Leonardi on piano.
Speeches & Tributes
Beata Bishop is a 30-year malignant melanoma survivor, thanks to the Gerson Therapy, and a longtime Gerson activist who was instrumental in founding the UK Gerson Support Group and the first licensed Gerson clinic in Europe: the Gerson Health Centre in Hungary. She wrote a book about her recovery on the Gerson Therapy, called A Time to Heal, and co-wrote Healing the Gerson Way with Charlotte. Beata reflected on her long friendship with Charlotte in a moving and witty speech:
I am just one of many-many people who wouldn’t be alive today without Charlotte’s heroic work and gentle but firm care. I’ve had first-hand experience of her extraordinary gift to turn a frightened, hopeless and forlorn sick person into a purposeful, determined individual who is willing and able to fight and work for survival, following the straight and narrow path of the Gerson Therapy. And believe you me, it IS straight and very narrow…
I want to celebrate Charlotte’s unique personality. Her ability to blow away the scary mystique that surrounds cancer. Her way to support and encourage you in an affectionate motherly way, and at the same time make it clear that unless you are totally committed and will obey the rules, your chances are kind of … limited.
If a patient tries to bend the rules just a tiny bit and is foolish enough to tell Charlotte about it, the response is a sorrowful laser-sharp look from her very blue eyes – I call it the Medusa-look, which turns you to stone in a jiffy – and the mournful words: “I hope you won’t regret it.” For me, one of these looks was enough to wipe out any rebellious ideas I might have had.
I celebrate Charlotte for having demonstrated that one person, moreover a woman, without big money, political power or friends in high places CAN achieve the impossible, against heavy odds, by sheer determination and a passionate belief in the rightness of her cause. Imagine for a moment Charlotte way back in the late 70’s, all alone, with her father’s book as her sole weapon and anchor – and look at the result of her work today, the multitude of people, past and present patients, helper, volunteers, staff, trainees, trainers, caregivers, all linked by a common cause. It’s awe-inspiring.
Eric Freeman, our Assistant Chef who spent several months cooking and juicing for Charlotte and her family at home, gave a moving tribute to Charlotte. Eric, pondered what had motivated Charlotte to keep going, and to keep fighting to educate others about the Gerson Therapy:
I feel that I have begun to understand what makes a woman work so hard, and for so long. It’s not the money, I can tell you that much. I don’t know many women as humble as Charlotte.
I don’t think it was just for fun either, though I’m sure there have been many great times. No, it’s something else.
The only thing I can think it could be is love.
But not your ordinary love like we have for those close to us, although this is an important love too. This love is so big and so strong that 90 years of living among us hasn’t been enough to wear her down. This is a superhuman kind of love, a love for all of life itself. This is a love that doesn’t come around as often as it should.
We are all aware of the beautiful things Charlotte has said and done over her lifetime, but there is one particular thing I’ve seen Charlotte do that I think best exemplifies who she is; when Charlotte gets really excited about something, she does what can almost be described as a little dance. She smiles warmly, her eyes shine big and bright and she sort of bends forward and shakes her arms back and forth. I swear when she does this she looks just like a little kid again. Each of the times I’ve witnessed it I’m left wondering, how could this be? How could a woman who has seen and overcome so much still have such unbridled zest for life? Again, it must be this love Charlotte carries with her. And she has done a remarkable job giving it back to everyone.
We asked our friends and supporters to send in video birthday greetings for Charlotte, which we compiled into a video birthday card for Charlotte, along with old video clips and even home videos dating back to the 1940s! We showed this video to Charlotte and the crowd at the party, and Charlotte was so pleased with the video that, while she watched it, we all got to witness her youthful “happy dance.”
Charlotte’s Birthday Gift
Though we had let the cat out of the bag here and there online, we managed to keep Charlotte’s gift a secret from the birthday girl. We recently planted an organic orchard in her honor at Wild Willow Farm. The gift was such a lovely unexpected surprise, Charlotte was overwhelmed with joy, and even a bit teary-eyed.
Since we couldn’t quite squeeze the orchard into a small gift-wrapped box, we gave Charlotte a small, symbolic gift: a beautiful antique necklace with a pendant of glass grapes. Amanda showed a slideshow of photos from the day we all went down to Wild Willow Farm to plant the trees, which you can see here.
Candace Vanderhoff presented Charlotte with the design for the entrance to the orchard, which will be created from upcycled mattress box springs and wood:
Charlotte has a charming innate sense of humility, and at the end of the evening, sternly insisted that we were making far too much of a fuss over her. The brilliant growing smile on her face, though, told another story.
We ended the evening by joining together to all sing a rousing rendition of “Climb Every Mountain,” from The Sound of Music, a favorite of Charlotte’s which perfectly captures her irrepressible instinct to help others, no matter what obstacles stand in her way.
This enchanted evening beautifully expressed our love and appreciation for all Charlotte has done in her 90 years on this earth (and continues to do) to keep the Gerson Therapy alive throughout the world, bringing hope and healing to those hungry to live and learn.