Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD, died suddenly on July 21, 2015, at age 67. A memorial service was held on June 20, 2016, at the historic St. James Church on Madison Avenue in New York City. On a warm, sunny afternoon, about 225 invited guests attended, including friends, family, colleagues, and patients.
Planning for the moving Episcopalian service started last fall, Dr. Gonzalez's widow, Mary Beth Gonzalez, told me: "It was important to hold this private memorial service because so many of Nick's colleagues and long-term patients were not able to attend his funeral in July 2015 on such short notice. Having Nick's memorial on the summer solstice – the day of the year when there is the most light – is a perfect way to honor a wonderful man who was compelled to spread the truth and shed light on everything he touched."
Following tradition, the service, in the historic and architecturally impressive church, began with religious music and hymns. After a welcome from the church's rector, the Reverend Brenda Husson, three people, invited by the rector to a lectern on the right side of the elevated altar, offered remembrances. I was the first one. Having known Nicholas Gonzalez for over 25 years, and reported on him and his work many times, I placed his career in the broad context of modern medicine. I compared Dr. Gonzalez and his accomplishments to Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, PhD, who encouraged Nicholas Gonzalez to change his career from journalism to medicine. I also acknowledged Dr. Gonzalez's seminal and uncompromising role in championing the use of primary nutritional therapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases.
The next speaker was Roy Sweat, DC, a mentor and close friend of Dr. Gonzalez's. Dr. Sweat, 89 years old, shared anecdotes about Dr. Gonzalez and also recalled meeting and being impressed by William Donald Kelley, DDS, who was Dr. Gonzalez's mentor in the nutritional enzyme therapy that he and his longtime clinical associate, Linda Isaacs, MD, used.
The third speaker was Christopher Pryor, Mary Beth Gonzalez's brother, who read from a draft prepared by Mary Beth. It largely quoted the words of Dr. Gonzalez himself, written for the Pryor family's newsletter.
"To me, the greatest blessing is, of course, life itself, the great gift God has given to us all," Dr. Gonzalez wrote for the newsletter – his words now ringing out in the august church for everyone to hear. "In a very practical sense, I have chosen, with God's guidance, a difficult career path for sure, taking on it seems at times the entire conventional medical world. Though I am a very small David in comparison to the Medical Pharmaceutical alliance, I and my treatment still survive, I still have many patients told they were going to die turn around and live and achieve excellent good health. It is indeed a great blessing, to witness these patients survive and succeed, over and over again, during the past 27 plus years of my medical practice. And with God's help and blessing, my work continues to grow in prominence, silencing or at least minimizing the complaints of the critics.
"I have learned that hard work, determination, refusal to give up when the going gets rough, and above all, sticking to one's ideals make for a successful career and a contented life. As Mary Beth will say, I never compromise ever, and have no intention of compromising, my ideals or my devotion to truth."
The Reverend Terence Elsberry delivered the homily. Rev. Elsberry, the rector of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Bedford, New York, has known Mary Beth and her family for decades. He married Mary Beth Pryor and Nicholas Gonzalez in 2001, and officiated at Dr. Gonzalez's funeral.
In his 8-minute long homily, Rev. Elsberry brilliantly summarized Dr. Gonzalez's life and work, and helped to explain the meaning of his passing, all in the context of his strong faith. "Nick was a star. He didn't just shine; he blazed. He blazed with the healing light of Christ. He brought that light, that healing, to his patients and they responded. Over and over, time after time, they beat the odds. They were made well.
"The first people were not designed to be sick or to die. … So when somebody gets sick, please don't say that it's the will of God. It isn't. It's God's will that we be well. Nick understood this. He gave his life to helping sick people beat the odds, overcome sickness, and get well.
"Nick was a brilliant, brave and courageous overcomer, for it is not easy to go against the prevailing current, to go against the grain – as Jesus also discovered."
After an hour and 15 minutes, as organ music again filled the large stone church, many of those present gathered in the basement for an informal reception. A video monitor played excerpts of more remembrances recorded by over two dozen of Dr. Gonzalez's patients. Mary Beth greeted all of the attendees, who included Colin Ross, MD, who came from Texas; Robert Scott Bell, from Florida; James Gordon, MD, from Washington, DC; and Kelly Brogan, MD; Ronald Hoffman, MD; and Carol Alt from New York City. Dr. Ross is coediting with Mary Beth the book of best case histories that Dr. Gonzalez had almost completed at the time of his death.
The reception represented the unofficial launch of the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation that has recently been granted tax-exempt status. Mary Beth and the foundation's board have proposed an ambitious agenda "committed to keeping the brilliant, healing work of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez alive today and for generations to come … by preserving, promoting and propagating his holistic individualized nutrition protocols in the education about the treatment and prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases." More information can be found at http://dr-gonzalez.com. Meanwhile, Linda Isaacs, MD, Dr. Gonzalez's long-time associate in clinical practice and research, continues to treat patients in New York City. Her website is http://drlindai.com.
© Peter Barry Chowka
Peter Barry Chowka has reported on issues and personalities in national politics, popular culture, and alternative medicine since the 1970s. He published more articles about and interviews with Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez than any other journalist.