Today the Gerson community across the world is fortunate to celebrate the 96th birthday of the Gerson Institute’s beloved founder, Charlotte Gerson. Over the last few weeks, we received an outpouring of emails, messages, letters and cards with well wishes for Charlotte on her birthday. Hearing from you means so much – not just to Charlotte, but to all of here at the Gerson Institute, our Board of Directors and our volunteers. It reminds us of how important this work is and that we really are making a difference.
For her birthday gift, we sent your well wishes along with a beautiful flower arrangement, a stylish yet comfortable house jacket, an olive tree plant for her living room, and a birthday card signed by everyone here at the Gerson Institute.
Checking in with Charlotte
Charlotte retired from her work at the Gerson Institute in 2014 to focus on rest and healing after a fall that resulted in hip surgery. While active and spunky for a woman in her nineties, it was time to slow down and focus on self-care.
In 2016, Charlotte moved to Italy to live with her daughter, Peggy. She has caregivers that adore her and is often visited by her granddaughter (pictured above) and long-time friends like Beata Bishop.
Charlotte was 56 years old when she founded the Gerson Institute forty years ago in 1978 with Norman Fritz. Like her father, she was challenged by the medical establishment, and yet her devotion to spreading her father’s message of hope and the power of nutrition never faltered. Through her tenacity and persistence, she fought against everyone who said it can’t be done and proved that it can.
In doing so, Charlotte played a huge role in the movement that brought natural, holistic healing on the world’s stage, paving the road that made today’s health and nutrition revolution possible. Her passion and selfless work ensured that her father’s genius would be preserved and that his torch would continue to shine bright across the globe.
A quote from Beata Bishop, Charlotte’s long-time friend, author, Gerson activist, co-founder of the Gerson Health Centre, Europe and long-term Melanoma survivor thanks to the Gerson Therapy, perhaps best exemplifies Charlotte’s driven spirit and legacy:
“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, helpers, volunteers, staff, trainees, trainers, caregivers, all linked by a common cause. It’s awe-inspiring.”
Charlotte’s Legacy Orchard Today
For Charlotte’s 90th birthday in 2012, local architect and long-time friend of the Gerson Institute, Candace Vanderhoff, partnered with San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project at Wild Willow Farm in the south bay of San Diego, California, and designed the Charlotte Gerson Legacy Orchard. Gerson staffers, volunteers and supporters planted fruit trees and connected with Dr. Gerson’s wisdom by contributing compost from Gerson staff lunches to help keep the earth’s external metabolism – the soil – rich and healthy.
Six years later, the fruit trees are still in infancy but bloom every Spring right around Charlotte’s birthday – a humble reminder of life’s natural cycles and the impact of seeds planted years ago.
We couldn’t help but add a gift for Charlotte that, just like her, would keep on giving: a SoloBee House by none other than Candace Vanderhoff. Made from reclaimed wood, these bee houses serve as shelters for our pollinator friends as they pollinate one-third of our fruits and vegetables. Charlotte’s new SoloBee House will stay in the Charlotte Gerson Legacy Orchard at Wild Willow Farm.
Best summarized on Charlotte’s 91st birthday:
“This orchard of fruit trees was more than just a way of helping increase the amount of local organic produce. It was a symbol of Charlotte’s life and work, the reality that social change is brought about by determined people who keep educating and spreading the word and never give up. Change happens because of individuals like Charlotte and Dr. Max Gerson.”
Father time may know no exceptions, but Charlotte remains a testament to her message today with no pain, her signature bright smile and a continued appetite for vegetables.
Stay in Touch
If you wold like to send a letter or card to Charlotte, please mail to:
Charlotte Gerson c/o
P.O. Box 161358
San Diego, CA 92176
Written and posted by: Nicole Ferrer-Clement