Gertraud Gruber - the Grande Dame of holistic cosmetics
A pioneer with heart, acumen, humour and courage
Keeping body and mind flexible, eating healthy food, doing something good for the skin and taking a deep breath every now and then. – Practices that are now preached in wellness facilities and spas all over the country have been the essence of her professional work for over 65 years.
In 1955, Gertraud Gruber founded Europe’s first beauty farm in Rottach-Egern on Lake Tegernsee. There she put into practice everything that belongs together in today’s understanding of the word “holistic”, with one important difference: Gertraud Gruber chose this path at a time when the cosmetics industry, and even women themselves, understood “beauty” primarily as the concealment of external imperfections. The fact that the pioneer herself was the finest example of the effectiveness of her ideas has often been described.
Her name has long been a trademark. Gertraud Gruber was considered by experts to be the “Grande Dame of holistic cosmetics”. For her, beauty was always synonymous with “visible health”. As a logical consequence, beauty care according to Gertraud Gruber was and still is regarded as preventive health care, in which first-class preparations and incomparable treatments go hand in hand with healthy nutrition, sensible exercise and the pursuit of inner harmony.
In her active days, the founder herself was a living example of her philosophy to her “guests” as well as to the staff and was always interested in innovations in and around her industry, without ever sacrificing her own uniqueness. “Flexibility is the most important thing: elasticity is youthfulness, stiffness is old age,” was one of her favourite quotes, her guiding principle being: If you stop getting better, you’ve stopped being good ~
Gertraud Gruber leaves behind a unique lifetime’s work
As a successful entrepreneur far beyond the borders of Germany, Gertraud Gruber enjoyed the greatest recognition of all. She was honoured several times for her work and lifetime achievements, with awards including the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon, the Bavarian Order of Merit and the State Medal for special services to the Bavarian economy. In January 2022, Gertraud Gruber was awarded the Bavarian Constitutional Order in Gold for her great entrepreneurial and personal commitment. The Grande Dame of holistic cosmetics and “pioneer in the service of beauty” reached her hundredth birthday.
The life of Gertraud Gruber in pictures:
The unknown Gertraud Gruber
~ Part of being human is caring for others. ~
Intrepid entrepreneur, philanthropist and animal lover, down-to-earth Bavarian, cosmopolitan and curious, full of humour and always on the move – among the many sides to Gertraud Gruber, there was one about which she herself hardly ever spoke a word. The entrepreneur from Rottach was a generous benefactress and sponsor, both within the region and far beyond its boundaries. Her foundation “Gertraud and Josef Gruber Stiftung” was established “for the benefit of children, the elderly and animals”. “I enjoy getting involved. I don’t have to live in the lap of luxury. I have my dog, a nice home and good friends. That’s enough for me,” said the entrepreneur succinctly. “I don’t see that as anything special”. According to her, taking care of others is “part of being human”. She was involved with many projects for decades – largely unnoticed by the public, to her delight. An exception was the two biggest projects of recent years, which at the same time tell us something about the spiritual side of the lively entrepreneur:
~ Gertraud Gruber made possible the construction of the “Domicilium” hospice in Weyarn, where those who are dying find their final, loving home. What makes it so special is that it’s a place where the helpers live with the terminally ill and are always there for them. It was this personal commitment that particularly impressed Gertraud Gruber.
~ The “Benediktushof” opened its doors in Holzkirchen, near Würzburg, in 2003. Gertraud Gruber played a significant part in enabling the former Benedictine monastery to be renovated from the ground up, redesigned and, under the direction of the Benedictine monk and Zen master Willigis Jäger (1925-2020), to grow into one of Europe’s largest centres for Christian contemplation, mindfulness and Zen meditation. In her address at the opening ceremony, she said: “The decision to get involved in the reconstruction and revival of the Benedictine monastery (required) courage and (...) plenty of imagination. But every time I travelled from Upper Bavaria to Main-Franconia, my conviction grew that a new centre for the spiritual awakening of our time could be created here under the care and guidance of Willigis Jäger.”
When Willigis Jäger passed away in March 2020, Gertraud Gruber wrote in the book of condolence:
“He taught me much about the right way to deal with life. His words and images about our existence and about the deeper meaning of life – in the truest sense of the words – have helped many people to accept life as it is and to deal with it mindfully.”
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