Obituary: Gerson Fabe

By Ron Hayes

12369347895?profile=RESIZE_180x180LANTANA — When Gerson Fabe arrived at The Carlisle Palm Beach in 2014, he brought all the things an elderly gentleman entering an assisted living facility in Lantana would bring.

But he brought hundreds of poems, too.

And when he died at 102 on Jan. 20, he left hundreds more behind, along with all the friends who had looked forward to a poem a day for nearly 10 years.

“Any poem that deals in some way with age everybody loves, because they see themselves as the poem unfurls,” he told The Coastal Star in a 2017 profile.

My stamina and I
Are no longer speaking.
My left knee joint
Is loudly creaking
But I’m glad to be here.
— The Lament of Old Age, by Gerson Fabe

“My father started writing poetry regularly in 1996, after the death of his wife, Joan,” Mr. Fabe’s daughter, Sondra, said. “She was the love of his life.”

At The Carlisle, Mr. Fabe began sharing his daily poems, leaving copies in the dining room at breakfast. Eventually, residents asked for them, and a small breakfast group formed, five or six friends sharing a table.

“People would give him boxes of paper to print the poems on,” said Bobbi Horwich, who came to The Carlisle three years ago and soon joined Mr. Fabe’s breakfast club. “There was nobody like Gerson, his poetry, his sweetness. I can’t imagine anybody here that didn’t like him or wasn’t touched by one of his poems. They ranged from humor to love and how important friendship was. I don’t know who can fill that empty chair.”

Gerson Fabe was born in Cincinnati on Sept. 28, 1921. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, but left during World War II to serve as a test pilot.

Among the first fliers to test planes after they had been repaired, he took pride in never having had to ditch a plane during his six years in the U.S. Air Force. After the war, he sold insurance for Connecticut Mutual, where his sales unit led the company for 15 consecutive years.

Lantana Mayor Karen Lythgoe met Mr. Fabe in 2021, when she read a proclamation to the Town Council marking his 100th birthday. They became friends, and she attended his 101st and 102nd birthday parties.

This past Christmas Eve, she was invited to The Carlisle for happy hour.

“I was led to the back room where the breakfast club had a private dining room reserved, and I was invited to stay for dinner.

“Gerson was just out of the hospital. An aide wheeled him in, and he started to eat, when a violinist who had been in the lobby when I arrived came in and asked, ‘What would you like to hear?’ He said Sinatra. ‘Which one?’ My Way. And Gerson sang My Way the whole time. He knew every word.”

He was, after all, a man who loved words.

Memories flit in and out of a fog
That grows denser as we age.
The moment in which they reveal themselves
Is as swift as just turning a page.

— Through the Fog, by Gerson Fabe

“I loved him, but I also respected and admired him,” his daughter said. “He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. He wanted to die in his own home, in his own bed, in his own time, and he did.”

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 26, The Carlisle held a small memorial for him.

In addition to Sondra Fabe, of West Palm Beach, Mr. Fabe is survived by two stepsons, Larry Berlin of Baltimore and Mark Berlin of Jacksonville; a step-grandson, Geoffrey; and a step-granddaughter, Samantha.

Forest Hills Memorial Park in Palm City is in charge of arrangements.

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