Gerden Riemenschneider receives a cake for his 102nd birthday, part of a surprise celebration thrown by his care team.

Gerden Riemenschneider receives a cake for his 102nd birthday, part of a surprise celebration thrown by his care team.

Jane McCarthy escorted her father, Gerden Riemenschneider, from the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s Kaufman Cancer Center waiting room into the Infusion Center, where Gerden receives treatment for melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

As they turned the corner, they are greeted by cheerful shouts of, “Surprise!”

The 102-year-old’s care team had been eagerly waiting in his treatment area, which they had decorated with balloons, banners and more. One caregiver approached with a homemade cake for the World War II veteran, whose birthday happens to fall a couple of weeks before Memorial Day.

Celebrating Another Milestone

After his melanoma diagnosis, Gerden visited Dr. Myo Min, head of hematology at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and Gerden’s hematologist oncologist of 13 years.

“We like Dr. Min very much,” his daughter, Jane McCarthy, said. PET scans have shown no signs of cancer recently, she added.

A Commitment to Hope and Healing 

The Kaufman Cancer Center offers advanced cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation and infusion. Gerden has been a part of this cancer care in Harford County from its inception.

“Wonderful…couldn’t be any better,” he said of his care team. “They’re kind and loving and caring.”

The Kaufman Cancer Center’s team members are driven by the difference they make in the lives of their patients. Inspired by patients like Gerden’s, they remain dedicated to offering the community hope and healing during challenging times.

Over A Century of Memories

Gerden’s spirit is unbreakable, and no obstacle, — be it cancer, war or a raging sea storm — could change that. To pass the time during treatment, Gerden happily shared stories about his remarkable life up to now.

Gerden Riemenschneider was born on May 14, 1922, amidst the fields of his family's humble vegetable farm in Rossville, Maryland. One Christmas, a particularly cherished memory, Gerden’s parents gifted him and his older brother a small pony, which they aptly named “Spider”. 

Trading the fields for the factory, Gerden took a job at a brickyard following his time working on the farm. He then moved on to a steel company in Baltimore, before being called to serve his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. There, he kept a watchful eye as a lookout on the USS Hornet, an Essex-class aircraft carrier that was assigned to the Pacific Theater. Gerden recounted a harrowing event in the final months of the war when a wave from a typhoon walloped the Hornet, causing severe damage to the front.

After the war, Gerden returned to work at the steel company to save money to start his own farm. He went on to marry Dolores Victoria (Vicki) Hartley. They would have four children together, including Jane.

For a centenarian, Gerden gets around quite well. He flew a plane into his 70s and he still regularly trims his yard atop a 54-inch riding lawn mower.