Review of my Book by Norman Lemoine

92 and Dancing introduces the fearless Cecelia, and chronicles a lifetime of adventure. This intriguing story follows the contours of the author’s journey through the years into old age. In her narration, the adventures of her early years set the stage for the bursts of energy and a wealth of accomplishments later in life. The moral of her story-and there is one- is that aging is a gift, an opportunity and a new beginning. For her, life surprises and beckons at every corner. For her, there is always another trip to plan, another friend to meet, another project to initiate, another outing to suggest, another mountain to climb, another village to visit, another cause to support.

To anyone who might conclude that accomplishments end with retirement or that life dims with the passing of years, she responds with a resounding “not so”. In 92 and Dancing, Cecelia Hurwich proclaims, in her words and by her example that life can be repeatedly renewed. “Why stop at a master’s degree in psychology when a Ph.D. is within reach — even when you are at an age when most people are thinking of their imminent retirement.”

It becomes clear in reading 92 and Dancing that the author has not only been blessed with good fortune, but also that she simply will not allow bad fortune to fell her. More important — perhaps the “secret” to her enduring vitality — she is always willing to share her good fortune; the door to her home, her life and her heart are always open. In the same way that she has shared her life with friends, children, husband and life companion, she is as generous with us as she draws us into her story. And what a story! She takes us to China in the 1930s, WWII in the ‘40s, and then Esalen, Everest and Kilimanjaro, just to give a taste of her inspiring life.

92 and Dancing is a primer on how to be creatively engaged, how to discover and explore new opportunities, and how to make the most of every experience. Cecelia celebrates her defiance of stereotypes, never lets being a woman in the 1940s, 50’s and 60’s, growing old or any other obstacle impede her in any way. She lets her own forward movement into her 93rd year stand as a model of what is possible. The story of her life speaks to the human spirit’s boundless energy which has been transformed into so many accomplishments, a Ph.D., participation in White House Councils on Aging, and travels around the world.

92 and Dancing is a readable enjoyable chronicle of this most amazing life. An able story teller, Cecelia intrigues, fascinates and inspires. She brings the reader along from chapter to chapter of her life always engaged, waiting to be surprised and never disappointed.

Norman Lemoine
April, 2013


Review of my Book by Joanna Biggar

I have known Cecelia Hurwich—and her remarkable stories—for many years, but until I read her

lively new memoir, 92 and dancing, I didn’t know the half of it. When I first met her, and in fact interviewed her for the wire service I reported for, I knew of her late-in-life Ph.D., her amazing research on the long-lived Hunzakuts in the Himalayas of Pakistan, her expertise on aging. In fact, in the 1990s when I met her in my news bureau in Washington, she had come to participate in the White House Council on Aging.

We had also met through an organization we both belong to, the Society of Women Geographers. Even in that company of highly accomplished and adventurous women, she has always stood out. There, too, I encountered her signature clothing, brilliantly colored, often hand-made or woven, and brought back from some distant, exotic place. And whether at a meeting, a gathering in Washington, or her welcoming home in Berkeley, I, like everyone who meets her, have found her youthful good looks singular.

Now, having read her book, I have much more insight into those aspects of her life I did know—that her love for color and design, for example, grew organically from her one-time career as an interior designer—and, of course, I learned about numerous facets of her life I had no inkling of.

Her early life, for one, is a fascinating tale of its own. The childhood years with her glamorous parents in Harbin, China, where her charming, if roguish, father did business and the family was connected to a circle of wealthy Russian Jews and a cosmopolitan life. The eventual break-up of her parents, and her subsequent life with her mother at her grandmother’s bungalow in Oakland, where she enrolled in first grade speaking Chinese, but no English. And her grandmother, who developed her sense of history—both of her own Russian-Jewish heritage, and her heritage as a child of California.

Cecelia’s college years coincided with the Great Depression, and in her book she chronicles how she learned the value of money—and, with the sounds of swing and jazz, the joy of dancing. Upon graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 1942, she was then called to do what many of her patriotic generation did, and joined the WAVES. Also, like many of her generation, while still in uniform, she married someone in uniform–a Navy officer, named Rudy Hurwich.

In many ways, the next decades of her life parallel the path of her contemporaries—in classic roles of wife and mother. But as she increasingly longed for more, her life began to diverge from the predictable path, and her book delves into myriad world. She shares her ventures into therapy, spirituality, and her increasing love for the transformative power of nature. She becomes a single parent, a business woman, a daring mountain climber, a political activist, and a scholar. She studies the Human Potential Movement at the Esalen Institute, gets a graduate

degree in Holistic Studies from Antioch University West, espouses the values of exercise, and structures her life to strengthen the mind-body-spirit connection.

But even as she cultivates her inner life—and reflects the values of the Bay Area where she lives—she also continues to expand into the world. She travels far and wide, especially to her spiritual “homeland,” India. She nurtures friends, family and love relationships. She continually renews herself, writes her story so far, and keeps on dancing.

Cecelia Hurwich’s rich memoir has something to inspire everyone.

Joanna Biggar

March 2013