Remembering Elizabeth Gips

June 2, 2001

Elizabeth Gips lived a life graced by God, LSD

Sentinel staff writer

She was friends with Jim Morrison and The Doors, she was reborn on LSD, and she published a scrapbook about her life during the Haight-Ashbury days. Elizabeth Helaine Gips lived a unique life. She died the same way. Five years ago she wrote her own obituary and last Sunday, at the age of 79, she died with family and friends at her side. Services have been held. "From the moment she said she was dying, she started looking like she was at peace. We stopped giving her the drugs," said her son, Jeremy Lansman. Compassion was a guiding force in Mrs. Gips' life. When she was 9, she organized a Peace Club in Westchester County, N.Y. A year later she and her friends began a club that brought food and entertainment to orphanages and retirement homes.

In the 1960s, she embraced hippie culture while running a jewelry store on Haight Street in San Francisco. During the 1967 Summer of Love, her life was "graced with the mystical experience of union with God through the aid of LSD," she wrote in her obituary.

"She said she was reborn on LSD," said Paddy Long, her partner of 16 years. "She opened up her mansion on Ashbury to Vietnam protesters.

"She was friends with Jim Morrison of The Doors they used to come to her house for meditation and hang out," he said. "She was also friends with Lenny Bruce."

In 1994 she self-published a book titled, "The Scrapbook of a Haight Ashbury Pilgrim." It chronicles her life, and the lives of people she knew, through pictures taken during the 60s.

Before Mrs. Gips died, her family and friends gathered many times to recite the Rosary. They invited Tibetan Monks of the Gyuto Vajrayana Center to perform prayers and mantras. There were ceremonies done in Christian, Hindu and Pagan traditions.

Her son Jeremy came to see his mother two days before she died. "After we got here, she told us she was dying in a way that we knew she knew," he said.

Mrs. Gips died of pulmonary disease a condition she developed from decades of smoking cigarettes.

She practiced mediation and hatha yoga for many years and organized a hippie commune on her land above Nevada City. When she arrived in Santa Cruz in 1974, she began broadcasting from UC Santa Cruz's KZSC. A few years later she began a program with KKUP out of Cupertino. It was called "Changes." The show was "based on the premise that the human race has the capacity to learn compassion," she wrote in her obituary. She called it "evolutionary audio."

Mrs. Gips did hundreds of interviews with people famous, infamous and unknown. She played music of all kinds, from classical to rock, to visionary and folk all the while striving to bring people enlightenment to people through love and humor.

KKUP dedicated two hours of air time Tuesday to Elizabeth Gips. "Many people called in and said what a great influence she had on their lives," Long said.

She also fought hard for medical marijuana, playing a key role in the passage of Proposition 215.

Mrs. Gips is survived by her partner, Paddy Long -- she wrote that her relationship with him was the joy of her old age; and by her sons, Jeremy Lansman of Alaska and Joel Lansman of Santa Barbara; brother Robert Gips; and two granddaughters.

If you wish to make a contribution in her name, "find someone needy, or some organization helping the homeless, and give it to them," she wrote. Or donate money to WAMM, Wo/Men Alliance for Medical Marijuana, or Hospice.

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