Marlies and Georges Bertschmann support Pro Infirmis: “People with disabilities need a good network”.

Do something good. Think about others. Marlies and Georges Bertschmann from Zurich tell us why they have included various aid organizations in their wills.

Marlies and Georges Bertschmann are two cheerful people. We are all vaccinated, and greet each other with elbow contact. Their apartment on the outskirts of Zurich is bright and cozily furnished. Thanks to a storm, they can now see as far as the nearby schoolhouse, says Marlies Bertschmann, a sprightly senior citizen whom I wouldn’t have guessed was almost eighty.

She smiles. She moves around the apartment light-footedly, serving coffee and cake. Her husband nods when I ask him if he painted the pictures on the wall. “I started painting almost 50 years ago. My aunt showed me a few tricks of the trade, and I taught myself the rest. Here in the basement I set up a studio for myself.”

“Sailing ship on Lake Sils”. Georges Bertschmann with one of his paintings. (Foto: Peter Lauth)

A lifetime on the road

He uses oil paints exclusively, paints on canvas, says the long-time truck driver, who learned a creative and manual profession. “I made an apprenticeship as an art and construction fitter. Then I switched to the road and didn’t let go of the wheel for 25 years.” After his early retirement at 62, Georges drove for the “Nez Rouge” organization for some time.

Georges Bertschmann grew up in Basel. “I was born in 1941 as an only child,” he says. ” There are benefits – and drawbacks. You have to do the dishes alone, you’re often on your own – and, first of all, you’re to blame for everything.” He laughs, as he will a few more times.

Then he wants to know which club I support. For the FCZ, since 60 years, I answer. And we talk about football, about passion and dealing with defeats. Marlies Bertschmann says: “It bothers me when fans get rowdy and break things. That isn’t right.” Her husband shakes his head. He says: “When Basel lost, we hung our heads and went home. We never destroyed anything.”

Marlies Bertschmann
Marlies Bertschmann worked for a doctor in Zurich for 27 years. (Foto: Peter Lauth)

Happily married for 30 years

Marlies Bertschmann knows her neighborhood for almost 80 years. “I grew up here in Albisrieden. Together with eleven siblings.” She laughs at my perplexed face. Says: “Mother gave birth to six girls and six boys. I was the second youngest.” The parents ran a dairy business. Father pulled his handcart around the neighborhood up to seven days a week. He delivered dairy products.

After finishing secondary school, she started an apprenticeship as a medical practice assistant and ended up working for an internist with a practice in Zurich. “I worked for Dr. Bondolfi for 27 years.” Working with people and their health problems fascinated Marlies Bertschmann. And the work with the doctor, meant a lot to her. “A friendship developed between us and Doctor Bondolfi that lasted many, many years,” she says. It was him who encouraged the couple to travel the world.

Georges and Marlies met over 30 years ago. “And so we got married, got married in Willerzell on Lake Sihl.” Faith is important, says Marlies Bertschmann. “A lot of people have an easier time if they believe in something.”

Marlies and Georges Bertschmann
Marlies and Georges Bertschmann got engaged more than 30 years ago on the Breithorn in the Valais. (Foto: Peter Lauth)

They got engaged on the Breithorn

The couple remained childless. The Bertschmanns were members of the Alpine Club for 30 years, getting to know Switzerland. And so I was not surprised when I learnt that the two got engaged on the Breithorn in the Valais. 4164 meters above sea level, they promised to stand by each other. To spend life together.

And they enjoyed this life around the globe after retirement. Marlies Bertschmann looks at her Georges. “We have traveled to a number of countries.”

Marlies Bertschmann particularly enjoyed Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. “These are colorful countries with beautiful nature.” The couple were equally fascinated by Zurich’s twin city Kunming. The 6.5 million metropolis is located in China’s southern province of Yúnnán. “It was beautiful there. People always had a smile for you. Just like everywhere else in Asia.”

Marlies and Georges Bertschmann
Marlies Bertschmann laughs as Georges tells her the story of playing the piano four-handed. That was too much for him. (Foto: Peter Lauth)

From ice dance to line dance

Smiling also played a role in Marlies’ hobby. She trained ice dancing for years. She still goes dancing. Today line dancing is a beloved hobby.

Marlies could not persuade her Georges to dance. They regularly went on ski tours and did a lot of sports, she says.

When asked about other hobbies, Marlies Bertschmann laughs, “I learned to play the piano when I was 58 and have been going to lessons every 14 days for over 20 years.”

Marlies and Georges Bertschmann
Georges Bertschmann: Together with his wife, he has selected four institutions that they both want to include in their wills. (Foto: Peter Lauth)

Network for people with disabilities

Marlies and Georges Bertschmann live very consciously. The last office has been made long ago. The couple also talked about their patient decree. The wills are written. Marlies Bertschmann: “We agree about which institutions we would like to consider one day.” Her husband nods. “We have selected four organizations. We’ve been supporting those for several years.”

Pro Infirmis is one of these organizations. “One of my sisters suffered from polio, and she regularly told me about Pro Infirmis meetings,” says Marlies Bertschmann. Over the years, she noticed how important Pro Infirmis was for those affected. “People with disabilities need a reliable network.”

Talked a lot about their own generosity

The relationship with the social works of Reverend Sieber is anchored in Zurich. “He was one of us, a great, down-to-earth person. We knew him and followed his work,” says Marlies Bertschmann. “In the Altstetten church, we attended concerts and listened to his speeches.” Georges agrees with her. “His work, and the work of his people is important, so we support this organization.”

Text: Martin Schuppli, Fotos: Peter Lauth

Pro Infirmis is a partner of DeinAdieu. See profile

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