Saturday 29 June 2013

Travel guru Gerda Rosner will be missed

She was 91 years of age, but when I heard the news that extraordinary travel guru Gerda Rosner had passed away in late June I was still taken aback. You see Gerda was hardly your  typical  senior. Until her final days she told all who would listen that she had no intention of retiring. A nasty fall ended up leading to her departure from us - much too soon. I was certain she would still be in the business at the age of 100 and beyond.
Gerda Rosner

Gerda and I met about a decade ago and when she discovered that I was a journalist. regular communications ensued. She was great at email and continually sent me story pitches. I complied with many articles. She was most appreciative of each one, always calling to say "thank you."  Photos were not emailed though. She snapped them the old fashion way or dug profile shots from her archives which I'd scan. We last spoke in the fall when she reminded me how I could reach her in Florida. Gerda was tapped in for sure, working on Linked In and Facebook.

Gerda  had been a worldwide health spa coordinator since 1965. She helped launch Weight Watchers in Montreal and opened her own company called the Happy Losers, which helped people lose pounds and feel good about themselves. The author of six cookbooks, she continued to organize winter trips to the Imperial Club in Aventura, Florida and fall packages to Canyon Ranch locations in Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts.

Gerda was born in Berlin and  was raised in Montreal. For many years she served as the president of  ORT. She actually got into the spa routine thanks to her parents who would bring her to facilities such as Safety Harbor in Tampa and the now defunct Palm Air Spa in Pompano. Many years later, when she started Happy Losers, she introduced an incentive program for her “students.” Those who did well in their program were offered a reward package to Safety Habor.

In 1974 Sam Edelstein, the owner of the Lido Spa, came to Montreal to meet with Rosner. Her reputation already preceded her and he was anxious to make a deal with her to serve as his local rep. An agreement was reached and clients began signing up by the dozens.

Gerda had her list of regulars who returned year after year. They ranged in age from 60 to 90, with average stays of between three weeks and three months.  Last winter she posted on her Facebook page:   "Having a great time in Florida. I am sold out at Imperial Club and have a big waiting list. Hopefully people will book early next year so they won't be dissapointed again. I hate to refuse anybody to have a good winter. Going to celebrate my husband David's 96th birthday. Hurrah!"

Gerda's speciality   was the teaching of chair aerobics. “Every morning at 9:15 the classes begin,” she would tell me. “There are more than 100 people and they fight to get spots. »

Gerda was relentless in terms of promoting her trips, calling and emailing me frequently. She was good on the computer and set up separate email addresses for Canada and the USA.

Gerda spoke endlessly about her second huband David Nencel (her first husband Marvin passed away more than 20 years ago) four children, 13 grandkids and eight great grandkids. Her son Myron has a particularly compelling story.  In 2001 a construction site accident put him in a wheelchair for life. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he moved on. Two years later he was elected to the North Miami Beach town council. He ultimately ran for mayor, serving one term in office.  

I think it is safe to say that there will never be another Gerda Rosner.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.