There is eternal vitality in good

The fountain I visit most often.

Although rather plain, this fountain is one of my favorites because I take a drink every time I pass by; it rests along the Zürichberg ridgetop, near the top of my daily walk and with a spectacular view of the lake and the Alps.  It commemorates a notable local, H.C. Susanna Orelli-Rinderknecht M.D., 1845–1939, “sponsor of the people’s well-being,” according to Google Translate.  “There is eternal vitality in good.”


I did not give the inscription much thought until now, but it’s striking for several reasons. First, I imagine there were few women MDs in the late 19th century, and even fewer who used a hyphenated last name.  Second, I’ve found a Wikipedia page (Deutsch) for this impressive woman.  (See English translation.)  Again with help from Google translate, it says she was born “in Oberstrass” (this neighborhood) and “was a representative of the Swiss abstinence movement and founder of the Zurich Women’s Association.”  She ended up running ten massively popular (alcohol-free) restaurants, and received many honors: “In 1919 Orelli-Rinderknecht was the first woman to receive an honorary medical doctorate from the University of Zurich. In 1945 Orelli-Rinderknecht was the first woman on a Swiss stamp.”  Indeed, the street on which this fountain sits, now called Orelliweg, is one of the most beautiful in the city.  (Ironic, though, that Orelli was the name of her husband of four years, her maiden name being Rinderknecht.)  Next time I pass by, I’ll tip my hat to this impressive woman.

One of many public fountains in Zürich.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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