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Bertha Reppert: 1920-1999.
The herb world lost one of its "grande dames" when herbalist extraordinaire Bertha Reppert passed away, surrounded by her family. Almost 30 years ago when herb shops were still virtually nonexistent, despite having no business training but with an unquenchable thirst for study and teaching, Reppert took her passion and opened the Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. It wasn't long before those who loved herbs knew of her, the shop, and her books, because in addition to her skills as an herbalist, she was a gifted writer on the subject.

I first saw Bertha's name between the covers of The Herb Quarterly in the early 1980s. In her book, Growing An Herb Business, she offered her experience and encouragement to those who wanted to follow their passion as she did. When readers of the book called her for advice she gave of her time without hesitation. Those who came into contact with her could feel that they had made a friend.

Bertha's family knew that she would want her memorial service to be a celebration of her life. The entrance of the Rosemary House gardens had a table filled with small colored bottles Bertha had collected over the years, along with buckets of fresh herbs. Visitors were encouraged to make a small bouquet to take home in remembrance of her. Pictures of her filled the tea room along with daughter Nancy's herbal delights. In place of the typical memorial cards was a basket of cards with packets of rosemary for remembrance and a picture of Bertha.

Bertha Reppert was one of the wisest, most giving, most humorous members of the herb industry. Her last words give you an indication of how she lived her life, "Love, love, love, love."

-- Maureen Rogers

Those wishing to make a contribution to Bertha's memory may donate to her fund for the National Herb Garden through the Herb Society of America, 9019 Kirkland-Chardon Road, Kirkland, OH 44094.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Maureen Rogers