"Give while you live, so you know where it goes."
"I'm an American by Choice."
- Henrietta, Countess de Hoernle
Henrietta, Countess de Hoernle, the woman whose name has become synonymous with giving, was born in the German Black Forest town of Karlsruhe on September 24, 1912. Her mother, Theresa, was a violinist, and her father, George, was a pianist.
The Countess came to America in 1931 aboard the S.S. Pennland to live with her grandparents in Jackson Heights, Brooklyn, near. She enjoyed parties and events and met each of her three husbands at The Liederkranz Club a social Manhattan social club founded by German-Americans to promote social and instrumental music. “Liederkranz” literally means “a wreath of songs”. Patrons of that early society have advanced the careers of many singers and its chorus has performed at the Metropolitan Opera House as well as in Boston and Philadelphia.
The Countess's first husband, Karl Heinz Bisping, died in an accident. They had one daughter who currently lives with her family in Yorktown Heights, New York. Her second husband, Jeff Gass, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and contracted malaria in the South Pacific. They had one daughter, who lives in York, Pennsylvania. After the war, Gass was in charge of all the documents for the Nuremburg trials. The family has donated many documents related to this period to the Harvard University Law Library. Mr. Gass died in 1949 from complications of his malarial condition.
In 1950, the Countess met businessman and engineer, Adolph, Count de Hoernle, at a Liederkranz Club masquerade ball. Soon after marrying, the couple moved to Bronxville, NY, a Westchester County suburb of New York City, where the Countess began volunteering at Lawrence Hospital’s thrift shop. While there, she noticed many plaques in the hospital stating "This room is donated by ... ". Inspired by the generosity of others, the Countess encouraged her husband to do the same. At the same time, The Countess also volunteered for local Meals On Wheels programs. Together, the Count and Countess soon began to provide music scholarships to singers through their Liederkranz society and among the first recipients was opera star, Gene Boucher.
Adolph sold his company, Stewart Stamping, in 1965 and following some considerable world travel and many visits to the area, the couple retired to Boca Raton in 1981—convinced that Boca Raton was, indeed, the “Jewel of The Gold Coast”.
The commitment to her life's charitable work became their “new” life in Florida. And, like the tropical foliage did they bloom! Time, talent and treasure became the by-words as service on institutional and organizational boards, community involvement and leadership in philanthropic efforts and commitment to the region became paramount.
Boca Raton Regional Hospital received their first “Sunshine State” gift, and it hardly was their last. Other health organizations, educational facilities, scholarships, cultural programs, community singing and theater groups, abused women and children, students, veterans, first-responders, the elderly and, in particular, the desperately needy, sick, and poor have all benefited from the remarkable spirit of kindness and giving that rules the life and daily work of the Countess de Hoernle, our legend as she inspires us with her legacy.
A comprehensive listing of the individuals, organizations, programs, and ideas that became reality in whole or in part by the Countess’s care and nurture append this biography.
Lives of goodness create ripples that extend far beyond our vision. The helpful hands of our honoree have made our city, state, nation and the world a better place.
Please join us as we celebrate and offer our very best wishes for the Countess’s continued good health and happiness.