On Tuesday September 20, Tony Cointreau celebrated the publication of his new book, “A Gift of Love – Lessons Learned from My Work and Friendship with Mother Teresa” with a party at Michaels.
A Table from the Celebration
In his second book, the author, singer, humanitarian, and scion to the French liqueur family reveals what he gained from working so closely with Mother Teresa during their 12 years together at the NYC AIDS charity, A Gift of Love. Tony’s partner of 50 years, Jim Russo helped greet guests including Mary Higgins Clark, Cece Cord, Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg, Julie Hayek, Nancy Pearson, Henri Kessler, JD Thompson, Maria Cooper Janis, Joan Benny, and Eric Bottcher.
Maria Cooper Janis, Tony Cointreau and Cece Cord_Credit Patrick McMullan
Mary Higgins Clark_Credit Patrick McMullan
Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg_Credit Patrick McMullan
Julie Hayek, Krystofer Kimmel and Nancy Pearson
JD Thompson and Erik Bottcher_Credit Patrick McMullan
Midway through the event, Tony made a short speech first thanking his partner Jim for his support over years. He then spoke about “Mother” and how much of a friend she was to the “dying, destitute and diseased.” He went on to say, how it was “scary to be with her in public, as people did not treat her like a human.” He then toasted the late Sister Jean Marshall, who was the Founder of St. Ritas Refugee Center in the Bronx, and “one of the unsung saints of the world because of her work with Vietnamese children displaced by war.”
With tears in his eyes, Tony then read a short passage from the memoir which honored his partner Jim Russo and his told a touching tale of how Jim comforted his dying sister through dance.
Additional guests: Leesa Rowland and Larry Wohl, Cassandra Seidenfeld, Jane Scher, Dr. Calapai, Dr. Kenneth Mark, Arthur Aidala, Michael Cerbelli and Cindy Guyer.
After experiencing a comfortable childhood as an heir to the Cointreau liquor fortune, and a successful career in show business, Tony felt that he needed something more meaningful in his life. This led him to spend twelve years as a dedicated volunteer in Mother Teresa’s hospices in New York and Calcutta, helping more than one hundred people while they went through the process of dying.
Every family eventually has to deal with caregiving and the end of life, and Tony’s friends kept pleading with him to write his experiences so that when they had to face it they would have a better idea of the simple things they could do to help their own loved ones during those last months, weeks, days, or hours. This book is Tony’s answer to those requests. His overall approach to caregiving for the living as well as for the dying shines through in each chapter, both in practical matters and in reverence for the privilege of sharing in life’s momentous transitions.
Tony Cointreau’s first book, Ethel Merman, Mother Teresa … and Me: My Improbable Journey from Chateaux in France to the Slums of Calcutta, was published in 2014 and told the story of how Tony after a successful international singing career and several years on the Cointreau board of directors, he felt a need for something more meaningful in his life and found his way to Calcutta.