My dad was one of the great Hygienists of our time.
He discovered the power of Natural Hygiene at age 30 after falling victim to polio, about six years following his return from World War II. Under the extraordinary guidance of Dr. Gerald Benesh, he overcame this health crisis, adopted the Hygienic way of life for himself and our family, and never looked back.
His part of “The Huberman Story” was profiled in the ANHS membership publication Natural Hygiene in May 1958 under the title “Strangers in a Foreign Land.” He and my mom joined the American Natural Hygiene Society (ANHS) — now the National Health Association (NHA) —- and remained members for the next 50 years.
My father was an avid organic gardener before there was any significant national awareness or consciousness on the subject.
In 1958, he and my mother, Ruth, started a health food store under the name Natural Health Foods, one of the first in the nation to sell organic produce. They operated that business for the next 33 years. Customers asked, “What kind of vitamins do you take or recommend?” He always replied, “None, we eat the foods.” He and my mom introduced many health seekers to the Natural Hygiene way of life.
Our family started attending ANHS Conferences in 1960. The one I recall the best was in July 1964 at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City. Although I was only 13 years old, I can vividly remember my father appearing on the platform as a featured speaker with such legendary Hygienic physicians as Drs. Herbert Shelton, Keki Sidhwa, Robert Anderson and Gerald Benesh. He remained a featured speaker for the next 40 years and served the Society in nearly every capacity imaginable, including serving on the Board of Directors.
In 1972, my father was elected to his first of an unprecedented five terms as President of the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) at a pivotal time in the growth of the health food industry. Under his leadership, NNFA made organic foods and environmentalism industry priorities. He authored and championed the creation of
Product Standards, a Code of Ethics and created the Rachel Carson Memorial Award that institutionalized the importance of environmentalism in the Health Food Industry. Most significantly, he took the fight for health freedom all the way to the Halls of Congress where he personally led the successful fight to allow vitamin supplements to be sold without prescription, and he lobbied hard against food irradiation, genetic engineering, and mandatory fluoridation. He was on a first name basis with Senators George McGovern, William Proximire, Orin Hatch and others. His efforts gained him a Crusader Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2002.
My father was a gifted, prolific and powerful writer. Beginning in 1972, and continuing for nearly two decades, my father penned regular monthly columns on health freedom, organics, nutrition and consumerism for Health Foods Retailing, Health Foods Business, and Let’s Live Magazine. His patented sign off was “No Surrender! No Retreat!”
When Health Science magazine was launched in April 1977, my father was a columnist in the inaugural issue, and for the next 30 years, he contributed articles on consumer issues, organic foods, and book reviews.
My father was also an inspiring lecturer not only for the ANHS, but to numerous other health groups and organizations. He mastered the art of weaving humor into his presentations as well as anyone I know.
My father and mother were great financial contributors to the ANHS, and as a consequence, were proud Life Members many times over. For his multi-leveled service to the ANHS, my parents were recognized for their Lifetime Achievement at the Loyola University Conference in 1994.
My father was as ardent a Hygienist as anyone I know. However, what I always admired most about his Natural Hygiene is that it never became an obsession. It was simply a vital part of a much larger and richer life — one that had our family at its center and the world of theater, music, art, literature and politics at every turn. He was an avid reader, a gifted actor, a talented playwright and poet, a community leader and political activist, and someone who was always there for anyone in need. His favorite quotation and clarion call to the world was from the great Ohio educator, Horace Mann: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
Certainly, there was no shame in my father’s death since during his rich lifetime he won many victories for humanity.
The day of his funeral, I received a condolence call from a customer of their old health food store who summed up my father as well as anyone I know. He told me that, “Whenever I came into the store, your dad always made me laugh — but he also always made me think.”
My father was all about commitment to causes, and I owe my lifetime of commitment to the NHA to him.
When my dad died on May 10, 2008 at the age of 86, 45 days after celebrating his 62nd wedding anniversary, my mother, my brother Jeff, and I fulfilled his wish by asking that contributions in his memory and honor be made to his favorite charity — the NHA. Our family is deeply honored by the outpouring of donations to date.
My dad would be proud of his latest legacy.
Mark A. Huberman, Past President of the National Health Association, is the Chief Magistrate of the Domestic Relations Court of Mahoning County, Ohio.
Remembering Max Huberman
“Two of the many things that I remember about Max Huberman are jokes and chess. Max loved to tell jokes and he always had one for me. Usually with a Hygienic bent and a punch line that included nuts or fruits...he was hilarious. Chess was a passion that he demonstrated at every convention. His matches with T.C. Fry were legendary, but the day I was fortunate to win against him (my one and only time) is the one I remember. Max, thanks for all the good times. I miss you.”
“Max Huberman will always be remembered in Natural Hygiene and even the much greater health teaching world as a brilliantly dedicated advocate of living to pursue, teach and even defend a way of life consistent with design. We all loved him for his uncompromising pursuit of teaching, writing, lecturing, and living this approach with humor. Thanks, Max, for those memories you have left not only for your immediate family but also for those of us in your extended family.”
D.J. Scott, D.C.
"I will always have fond memories of NHA conferences (from the time I was 16 years old) where I would play chess with Max while he was distracting me with jokes and stories and occasionally slipping in some sage advice. He usually won the game, but I always benefited from the encounter. Just remembering Max always makes me smile.”
Alan Goldhamer, D.C.
“Max Huberman was the greatest, most talented and most wonderful man I have ever known. He will be deeply missed.”