by Julia Karnow Alamo
On April 8th, colleagues, nurses, therapists, teachers, family and friends gathered at the Threefold Cafe to honor the life’s work of Dr. Gerald Karnow. For more than forty years, Dr. Karnow has served as a dedicated community physician, school doctor, lecturer, publisher, teacher and mentor to many people who had the opportunity to work together with him. The gathering took place within the context of the annual Anthroposophic medical training, IPMT (International Postgraduate Medical Training).
Dr. Steven Johnson, president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophic Medicine, or PAAM, opened the event with some memories of his early work with Dr. Karnow and Dr. Paul Scharff here at the Fellowship Community. Dr. Adam Blanning, director for PAAM’s training programs, noted the crucial pioneering work of Dr. Karnow towards the development and continuity of Anthroposophic Medicine in America. Through his leadership with Mercury Press and its medical publications, his teachings and mentoring work, Dr. Karnow opened the path for others who now can continue to serve the development of the art of healing.
Judith Brockway Aventuro, longtime Fellowship Community Co-worker and now a Trustee, shared memories of the multiple hats Dr. Karnow has worn throughout his life and work in the community. Judith recalled one dramatic event, with Gerald attending a birth in the back of her station wagon while she was driving a former Co-worker to the hospital. Thanks to Dr Karnow, mother and new-born baby arrived safely.
Leslie Burchell-Fox, Kindergarten teacher at Green Meadow Waldorf School, shared anecdotes about Dr. Karnow being a school doctor. Jeanette Rodriguez, Otto Specht School Program Director, brought a remarkable picture of Gerald through the eyes of a former student that shared with her his various learning experiences with Dr. Karnow, bringing light, many smiles and laughs to the audience. At the end she quoted the student saying, “When I was a child I wanted to be like Dr. Karnow and now as a young adult, I still want to be like him.”
Dr. Alexandra Karnow, Gerald’s daughter, brought a personal tone in her experience of Dr. Karnow. While Dr. Karnow was involved in his work and multiple activities, she noted, “He always was able to make room and time to include his family and to be a devoted father.” She shared a recent anecdote of one of his visits to Ithaca, where she practices as a family doctor and lives with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. They were all at the farmers market and she heard a voice calling out, “Hi, Dr. Karnow.” Then she said to Gerald, “Papa, someone is greeting you.” With a smile, he made her aware, “Honey, I think it is for you.” She ended saying, “I am so used to and love to be Dr. Karnow’s daughter, and I will always love it.”
I was part of the audience at this gathering, and I witnessed the sharing of these anecdotes and heartfelt laughs. I was moved by the many contributions, and especially by the deep human insight that Gerald has brought to so many. He continues doing so now as a friend, husband, father, grandfather and beloved member of the Fellowship Community.
I was once his patient and his student, and now I am his wife and colleague in the Anthroposophic therapeutic community. I know that I speak for many when I say that I’m full of gratitude for Gerald.
To make a gift to the Fellowship Community in honor of Dr. Gerald Karnow please visit