ALL-ONE: Lisa Bronner “The Man I Called Grandpa”

ALL-ONE: Lisa Bronner “The Man I Called Grandpa

In recognition of my grandfather’s 111th birthday this month…

What is it like being the granddaughter of Dr. Bronner? When I was a kid, it was all I knew. By the time I turned five, Dr. Bronner was my only living grandparent, so I had no point of comparison. I didn’t think anything unusual of the fact that he was blind and spoke in Moral ABC’s and called at 6 am to request that we recite #13.

Even now, I don’t have a ready description. Thoughts crowd my head – his mannerisms and philosophies, his family tragedies, his relationship with my dad, his relationship with me, the company then, the company now, day-to-day life vs. the global vision of saving Spaceship Earth. He was eccentric, visionary, exceedingly brave, boundary-pushing, tenacious, charming, baffling, and more than a little overwhelming. And he absolutely did not understand the meaning of the word “can’t.”

In this vignette, filmmaker Nate Hochstetler compiled what I didn’t even know I articulated to him. Nate reached out to us with the idea for this mini-documentary because he knew the Dr. Bronner’s brand, and in his words, “wanted to support individuals and companies who are doing good in the world.” Nate loves what he does and created this gorgeous piece at no charge.

Thank you, Nate. This is a gift to me, as well as to the many people who have known my grandfather, whether in person, through his label, or through his inimitable soap.

Nate is a documentary producer interested telling the stories of people who push their hearts and their creativity to the limit. He is the co-founder of Bloc Films, a documentary production company based in New York.

Further reading

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Pamela says:

Dear Lisa,
I am so glad that I have found your blog and so enjoy reading your writings about your grandfather. Watching your video here brings back smiles and memories of the time in the early 70s when I knew your grandfather. I spent time at his home with Gladys, sitting on the rooftop of the garage, taking notes of his thoughts and lectures. He and Gladys were very kind, sitting for dinner often and being offered an airstream trailer to live in for exchange for my work. Those were happy memories of living in Escondido, and knowing Dr. Bronner.

Lisa Bronner says:

Beautiful memories, Pamela! I am so glad you had the opportunity to know him.

Jay Friedehim says:

DB 111 all one!

Back when I was working with DB I used the name John Apolus. Long story.

I saw a movie about DB and I am in the film.

Is your uncle Ralph still alive?

Somewhere I heard the Francis Fortuna passed away. Do you know if that is true?

I live in Lanikai on Oahu.

145 Kaiolena Drive, Kailua, Hawaii, 96734

I would like to meet your brother promoting hemp.

Before I met DB I liked in Illinois where I was a lobbist in the state legislature promoting the legaization of MJ.

For many years I helped D.B. write the labels,

I used to bring them to your father in LA where he was making the soap.

I testified at the trial in federal court about the tax exemption.

That expereince led to my going to law school.

I used to go to health confernces with D.B, and Gladys.

Bernie Jensen , The Braggs, the guy who would pull the boat with his teeth,

this was all 50 years ago

my aloha

One time when I was a student at UCSC (Santa Cruz) D.B. came up by train and spoke at the university.

Lisa Bronner says:

Love the memories, Jay! Thanks for sharing! Uncle Ralph passed away in 2015, but his spirit is still very much with us.

Dorothy says:

Dear Lisa:

I loved seeing this video, understanding a little more about the remarkable man who was your grandfather, and hearing his actual voice saying the All-One! motto. I have been dedicated to Dr. Bronner’s soap for a very long time. Now, however, I am going as plastic-free as possible. Have you investigated developed the liquid soap in a tablet form that we could dissolve in water at home?

Thank you for the great work you and the team at Dr. Bronner’s do. And thanks for the terrific soap. The 18-in-1 Hemp Lavendar Soap is my ONLY soap! So relaxing and mild.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dorothy- This was a special video for me to make. Thanks for watching! We don’t currently have plans for a tablet soap, but the Castile Bar Soap can be used for just about everything. And it’s the same Lavender scent! Here’s a link to my cheat sheet for how to use it around home and body care:

Ginene says:

I have been using Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Soap since the 1960s and I have thought many times that it was one thing that some big corporation hasn’t messed up by changing it. I am glad the bottle and the contents are still the same. I always thought Dr. Bonner had the right idea about the world. That hasn’t changed either!

Kelle L Standley says:

Hello Lisa, I have to add my voice to the many others out there who Love Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap. I too have been using it most of my 56 years on spaceship Earth. My little bottle traveled with me in many a backpack trip over Europe and camping in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. When I was a young woman in my first little apartment ( with a gorgeous claw foot tub!) My bottle of Dr. Bronner’s found it’s first permanent home. I have always had it with me everywhere and everyhow I have transitioned over the years. From commune to cabin to my own funky little place within a gigantic garden, Dr. Bronner’s has always been my friend. As I sat in that old tub reading the teeny print on the Blue label, I worked my way through all the uses! I am so glad to see you carrying on this tradition. ALL- ONE ALL- ONE!!


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kelle- What a wonderful note! It’s always a pleasure hearing from long-time customers, and I love hearing how our soap has followed you in your travels. Thank you!

Jay Friedheim says:

WOW I was a good friend of DB and something of an employee for many years I worked on the labels with him for hundred of hours. I don’t know if Gladys or Francis are still around but they can verify my street cred. I would drive the copy for the labels from Escondido to LA and meet with your father Jim and I was close with Ralph. I always wondered about the ALL ONE- ALL ONE – ALL ONE we used to rant and laugh about on that roof top sunning area where he liked to hang out and tan.

So here is my all one story. I looked forward to November 11, 2011 for decades thinking something significant would happen.

Then when it came my Mom passed away and I learned about it in the late morning at 11 am.


Jay Friedheim


John Apolus.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jay – Thanks so much for sharing your memories. I love hearing from people who knew my grandfather. It sounds like you knew him well! Sadly, Gladys and Francis have also passed on, as have my dad and Uncle Ralph. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. It’s great that we can remember all their stories and lessons.


This film brought me to tears. Well done! I use your products and love your helpful blog. My husband found this film through the circuitous route of David’s Rich Roll interview and the Regenerative Organic Certification website. When he told me about the film, I was delighted to visit your blog again. Thank you for being a great example of how to treat the planet and people.

Shiree Paz says:

Same here we just watched on You tube David’s podcast interview with Rich Roll and loved it! We too are fans of Dr. Bronners soaps and never knew the story behind it. Now we are in love even more! I just went to your website to see more and watched your video on your granddad and it totally resonates with me! We look forward to supporting the family consciousness and be the change our whole world needs to educate and sustain the integrity of our lives on this great earth ? well done Bronner family well done! Keep his Legacy alive!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Alana & Shiree- That’s great that you found this via David’s podcast! Thank you for your kind words!

Paul says:

Your Grandfather was a great man, and you are a great Lady for carrying on his work. Your soaps actually changed my life for the better. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to You and your Grandfather. It’s nice to know that there are good people looking out for you in this crazy world.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Paul – Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I’m so glad we’ve been of help. I find there are quite a few kind people out there, which is lovely.

Jackie says:

I really enjoyed the video. Always have loved the soap but never could quite understand all the printing on the bottles either but fun trying. 🙂 You all really would make your grandfather proud if he’s looking in. Wonderful stuff!

Robert Van Peer says:

I had the pleasure of speaking with your grandpa of two occasions, several decades ago, when I was working for a distribution company that sold “organic and natural health products”.
Both times I was working in the warehouse when he called. The first time I will admit I was a bit shocked that he was taking care of some mundane day-to-day business but it did not take long to get him talking about his latest “plans”. Once he started……Whoa Nelly! Articulate and absolutely dedicated to his products, not just for what they were but also (maybe even “more so”) for what they could “do” to bring about his vision of the world.
The second time I caught his call (Lucky me!) I just settled in and we talked for 35-45 minutes….maybe a little more. I distinctly remember that call because he talked about his desire to “air drop 10 million labels over China”. He was very excited about that happening.
What a treat to have this memory.
It is a treat for many to have good memories of our grandparents. All four of mine were immigrants (Belgium, Germany, Russia) having brought my parents to the US as children. My oldest grandfather, Va (a common Flemish nickname for grandfather), would be 142 this year!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful video.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Robert – I love hearing memories like this from people who met my grandfather! This sounds just like him. I always wondered if he would try to translate the label before airdropping them. That would have been a challenge! He also talked in his writings about airdropping the label over Germany. I thought it was amazing that he still had a fervent desire to reach out to the people of his homeland, despite what had been taken from him. Thanks so much for sharing!

Nicolle Branning says:

Thank you for sharing this video. I have been using the peppermint or almond soap almost all my life. As a skinCare specialist ingredients mean everything to me. I even wash my outside plants off with Dr Bronner soap and the yard is thriving. This short film was legendary . Lisa , your grandpa would be very proud of what you have done with his product line. Thank you again for sharing this neat story?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nicolle- It’s always great to hear from long-time customers. I’m glad you liked the film, and thanks for your kind words.

Shirley Popp says:

What a wonderful gift you’ve been given! Thanks for sharing with us all. I love his/your soap!

Ezra Soiferman says:

Fascinating, informative and uplifting, as always, Lisa. Thanks to you and Nate for creating and sharing this post and short film. Emanuel’s message is as loud and clear as ever thanks to creations like this one. Loved it! Ezra

Tina B says:

Oh, my gosh…I just got goose-bumps.
My grandfather, who passed in ’94 from Parkinson’s, was my rock and chief supporter…this is a loving tribute you will cherish forever.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

Learn about my book, Soap & Soul!

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