2023 Top 20 Impact Makers Honorees
2023 Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker Award
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Four Seasons Hotel Houston
“You can’t buy health. If you have your health, you have everything.” – Harriet Gertner
Harriet Gertner is one of Houston’s living legends. She has a generous and giving heart, always wears a smile, and has spent her life spearheading important causes.
Harriet is a third-generation Houstonian and adored growing up in the city in the 1950s. “Everyone watched out for you. Houston was a small wonderful place to live a happy childhood,” she says. Harriet has fond memories of getting dressed up in hats, gloves, and heels and taking the bus downtown with her girlfriends at the age of twelve. That reverence for dressing well remains with Harriet to this day. She still lays out her clothes, jewelry, and shoes each night just as she did as a school girl. Harriet’s father was part of the Gordon Jewelry family. The family lived in Rosedale and Harriet attended Sutton Elementary.
Harriet met her first husband, Larry Rosmarin, as she was heading to The University of Texas at Austin. Larry had just graduated and managed to romance her back to Houston. He began a record distribution company in 1957. The couple were married and enjoyed life socializing with the recording artists of the day. They soon became the proud parents of son, Lance, and daughter, Marci. Larry was also a big-game hunter and together the couple would go on African safaris.
When Larry passed away from kidney disease, Harriet confronted the fragility of life. She was 38 years old. Rather than retreat into her sorrow, however, she made the decision to be good for the rest of the time she had left and to give back to Houston the way it had given her a beautiful and happy life. Harriet was blessed again by life when she met and married Gil Gertner.
Larry’s kidney failure was a result of diabetes. When the American Diabetes Association chose to honor him, Harriet became even more committed to volunteer work. Every year, she works tirelessly on many significant events. Among the institutions she has chaired events for are the Moores School of Music, Child Advocates, the March of Dimes, and Foto Fest Houston. She has served on several boards, including the Sickle Cell Association of Houston and Indestructible Beginnings, of which she is currently a member.
Since witnessing Larry’s struggle with kidney disease, Harriet has made it her life’s work to defeat the illness. In May 2006, she and Philamena Baird cochaired the first Kick Out Kidney Disease Luncheon in memory of Anne O’Neil, who succumbed to kidney failure earlier that year. All of the proceeds went directly to irradicating the disease. In May 2015, Harriet was honored by the National Kidney Foundation at its tenth annual Kick Out Kidney Disease Luncheon for 25 years of community service.
In recognition of her community work, Harriet has received a number of other honors. A small sample includes: being named a 2010 Social Book honoree, being named a 2010 Crohn’s & Colitis honoree, having Harriet Gertner Day proclaimed by the mayor of Houston, and being honored by the Best Charity for a lifetime of charitable works. When accepting the latter honor, Harriet thanked the organization and stated, “My lifetime is not over and I have a lot more work to do.”
It is for all the reasons mentioned above, and many more, that Harriet Gertner has been named a Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker for 2023.
2023 Top 20 Impact Maker Award