On Sunday, relatives from as far away as Boston converged on Encinitas to celebrate the 100th birthday of the matriarch of the Eidson family, Genevieve Eidson.
Ms. Eidson lives independently and works at the family business, Rustic Rooster Interiors, 930 S. Coast Highway 101, with daughter Sally von Gymnich and granddaughter Alexandra von Gymnich.
She explained that she’s always marked her birthday on Oct. 19 until 1973 when she applied for a passport and was told social security records indicated she was born on Aug. 8. This year she kicked off festivities with a small party in Encinitas on Aug. 8, and a larger, more formal 100th birthday celebration at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club over the weekend.
Eidson is in good health except for a little arthritis in her knees and hearing loss. To those who worry about getting old, she offers this simple advice: “Don’t think about it.”
“Grandma is known for her one-liners,” said Alex von Gymnich, smiling.
Eidson was born Oct. 19, 1912 in Kansas where her father was a district attorney. After the Dust Bowl, the family moved to Perryton, Tex.
“She had a photographic memory and was accused of cheating on state exams because she got all the answers correct,” Sally von Gymnich said. “In 1930 she was among the first women to be accepted into Stanford University.”
Eidson’s father had a stroke, so instead of going to Stanford she remained in Texas where she assisted him in his law practice for five years. In 1937 the family moved to Van Nuys, Calif. where she met and married Richard Eidson, a CPA who was a client of her father’s.
The newlyweds settled in Tarzana around 1940 and built a home and on a half-acre property. When she wasn’t raising three children, she volunteered with the PTA and various charities and enjoyed cooking, sewing clothes, arts and crafts, golf and contract bridge.
In 2002, Eidson’s life came crashing down when her husband passed away.
“Her life was shattered,” Sally von Gymnich remembered. “The average woman at 91 would have gone under. She was sad but didn’t dwell on the negativity.”
Sally and Alex von Gymnich persuaded Eidson to move to Encinitas and start a new chapter of her life working in the family business. Since then, Genevieve Eidson has become a fixture in the business and a public relations draw.
“She’s always the one to remember to follow up with people,” Alex von Gymnich said. “All the kids come into the store and say, ‘Is Grandma here?’”
In addition to her adopted grandchildren in Encinitas, Eidson has nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren from her own offspring: Richard, an attorney and retired school administrator; Sally, an interior decorator and entrepreneur; and Tom, former CEO of Hill+Knowlton and now best-selling author. His book, Last Ride is loosely based on the women in his family.
“I’ve never heard Grandma say, ‘No, you can’t do that because you are a girl,” Alex von Gymnich recalled. “We are a super strong family.”
“My mother taught us all to be good people, to look at everyone as equals and to try to take care of each other,” Sally von Gymnich said. “She also taught us civility.”
Added grandson, John Eidson, who works in media relations with Hill+Knowlton in Boston: “She taught us independence, and that life just keeps going on, and you just roll with the punches.”