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Obituaries

Donald Saul Gair

July 8, 2021

Donald Saul Gair, 96, died at home in Arlington Thursday, July 8, this past week with his family at his side.

Married for 68 years, Donald and Joyce Rae Moon Gair, his partner in all that they created together, raised Nancy, Jane, and Peter and helped them and their spouses, Bill Champion, Keith Prairie and Wendy Muello, raise their six children, Jonathan and William Champion, Everett Prairie, and Nora, Molly, and Nathan Gair. All will miss Donald but hold forever his love and wisdom in their hearts.

Donald was born in New York City January 25, 1925, foretold by a solar eclipse (important family lore), to Mollie nee Arginteanu and Harry A. Gair. Donald and his beloved sister Barbara Gair Scheiber of Rockville, Maryland, who passed away in March at age 99, grew up in a family that prized words and stories and theater, arts, music, travel, and the outdoors and active participation in different areas supporting those in difficulty. Harry was a noted plaintiff’s attorney; Mollie a clinical psychologist; Barbara an author and vigorous advocate for disabled children; Donald a physician and child psychiatrist. Along with his loving stepmother Harriet Rosenberg Gair, who became a partner in the Gair & Gair law firm and a Putnam County Judge, came brothers Elwood Gair, and a bit later twins Roger and Anthony Gair, each crucial keys to Donald’s learning about being a good big brother.

Family and lore, perhaps, led Donald to a vision as a very young child. In the sky he saw a large business card:

Donald Saul Gair

All Questions Asked – & Answered.

Maybe to that end and to fulfill his four-year-old self’s declaration to become a doctor, Donald became Dr. Gair in 1950 at Harvard Medical School, a crucible of wonder for him and his many lifelong schoolmates, after attending Harvard, serving as Lt., J.G., in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and graduating from Harvard University in 1945 as a proud alumnus and member of the Signet Society.

His career as a physician and psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent care spanned over 70 years and featured the training of generations of those who became peers in his field.

Donald did his medical internship at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, his psychiatry residency at Boston Psychopathic with neurology at Queens Square in London as well as a child psychiatry fellowship at Mass Mental Health Center (renamed from the Psycho). Along with his private practice, he became Clinical Director and then Superintendent of the Gaebler Children’s Center for under 16-year-olds, after leading the struggle to keep it open by designating it a state hospital. During that time he was appointed Chair of the Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, consulting and teaching and supervising there after his retirement from BUSM. He reluctantly retired from his private practice in 2017.

Donald cherished teaching (recalling always that teacher in Latin is doctor) and supervision. His goal, if he had a first lecture to medical students, was for everyone to become child psychiatrists, to join him in his calling.

At the onset of his medical training, Donald began the far more important study of courting and harmonious relating and living as he met, proposed to, and got fortunately married to the vivacious Joyce Rae Moon, R.N., of Bangor, Maine, who, we believe, agreed to but on a trial basis, which successfully went Donald’s – and all our – way.

Some of his greatest joys were travel with his family especially with his wife Joyce. At their camp on Mousam Lake in Maine and in Virgin Gorda, BVI, long-time friends and new also became family sharing in birthdays, boating, and years-long conversation. All such travel and stays included singing and harmonizing often with plucked and struck strings and brass.

Surviving Donald are his wife Joyce, their three children and their spouses Peter Gair and Wendy Muello, M.D., Jane and Keith Prairie, Nancy Gair and Bill Champion; grandchildren Nathan, Molly, and Nora Gair; Everett Prairie; William and Jonathan Champion; his brothers Elwood Gair and Anthony Gair, an attorney at Gair, Gair, Conason, et al.; and many dearly loved nieces and nephews (including grands and great grands).

His sister Barbara Scheiber and brother Roger Gair predeceased him.

Donald and all his family want to thank the support from hospice and the lovely care from his 24/7 helpers which allowed him to be comfortable at home.

Burial will be private. In due course a memorial service will be planned to allow for a longer get-together and good-bye.

Please, if interested, see Dr. Gair’s brief reflections on parts of his ever-growing care for the field of his calling and those it served. In it is one of his powerful aphorisms (since continually worked on), “Truth is the fragile child of skepticism. Dogma the brutal spawn of certainty.” (Gair 1988).

https://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/docs/life_members/news/life_members_wisdom_and_history_a_gift_in_my_life.pdf

Donald Saul Gair – January 25th, 1925, NYC, NY – July 8th, 2021, Arlington, MA

Barbara (Sherter) Levitz

July 6, 2021

Barbara (Sherter) Levitz, of Belmont, MA passed away peacefully at home July 6, 2021.  Daughter of the late Edith and Joseph Sherter of Dorchester, MA.  Beloved wife of the late Dr. Irvin Levitz. Devoted mother to Mark H. Rubin and his wife Lauren E. Rubin, and the late Eric J. Rubin and his surviving wife Roberta Rubin.Caring stepmother to Jennifer Aronson, Susan Levitz, Sandy Lunner and Michael Levitz. Loving grandmother to Jake, Grace, Lucy and Evan Rubin. At the request of Barbara’s family her funeral service and interment will be private. Memorial observance will be at the home of Mark and Lauren Rubin, Sunday, July 11, 2021 from 3:00 -5:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, 72 River Park Street, Suite 202, Needham Heights, MA 02494 or The National Brain Tumor Society, 55 Chapel Street, Newton, MA 02458.

Jeffrey A. Pavloff

July 5, 2021

PAVLOFF, JEFFREY A., of Randolph, MA, passed away July 5, 2021. Beloved son of Elaine (Harpel) and the late Richard Pavloff of Randolph. Loving brother of Alan Pavloff and his wife Lynda of North Easton. Adored uncle of Anastasia and Dylan. Graveside service at Custom Tailors Cemetery, 776 Baker St., West Roxbury, MA on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jeffrey’s memory may be made to the American Diabetes Association, or the National Kidney Foundation.

Miriam Laserson Weiser Varon

July 3, 2021

Miriam Laserson Weiser Varon, an actress and poet who worked on stage, film, radio, and television on four continents in six languages and helped her husband establish and operate two Israeli embassies, died at age 102, on July 2, 2021, at her home in Brookline, Massachusetts, in the company of loved ones.

She was born May 23, 1919 in a horse-drawn carriage in Moscow, Russia, en route to the hospital. Her father, engineer Leon Laserson, fainted when she made her accelerated appearance. Her mother, Dr. Frieda Orkin Laserson, one of the first two women accepted to medical school in Russia, calmly delivered her third child.

From there, life continued eventful and surprising, and took her all over the world. Her family moved for a time to their native Riga, Latvia, and subsequently to Vienna, Austria. As a grade school student in Vienna, she was the only girl on a boys’ soccer team and became an ardent Zionist and avid mountain-climber, running away from summer camp at age 15 to summit the Grossglockner with three boys from her Zionist youth group. Her other great passion was for acting, which she studied at the Theatre de l’Atelier in Paris, France, while skipping lectures at the Sorbonne. World War II broke out while she was visiting her parents at their second residence in Bucharest, Romania, and she made her way to Palestine, where she lived in Tel Aviv from 1939 to 1947. She was an apprentice with the Habima Theater, later to become the national theater of Israel, and co-founded a new theater, Ha Teatron Ha-Hadash. She supported herself and eventually her widowed mother through a combination of day jobs and acting work.

She was cast in the movie “My Father’s House,” written and filmed in Palestine by American author Meyer Levin, and traveled to the United States to promote the film. She then settled in New York City, where she worked on Wall Street while performing off-Broadway and regionally and on live television. For CBS, she produced and starred in her own adaptation of Argentinean playwright Alejandro Casona’s “The Lady of the Dawn.”  In New York, she met Benno Weiser, a journalist, Zionist activist, and fellow Viennese, and after an on-again/off-again romance and a break-up trip across Canada in his convertible, top down all the way, married him on Armistice Day, 1956, when he “unconditionally surrendered.”  Together they wrote a play, A Letter to the New York Times, which they subsequently produced in Latin America.

In 1960, she and her husband moved their family to Israel, for which her husband had obtained key votes in favor of the United Nations partition resolution from various South American countries. After four years in Jerusalem, her husband was appointed an ambassador and tasked with establishing the first Israeli embassy in the Dominican Republic. At this time, to represent their nation abroad, they chose the Hebrew surname Varon. As ambassador’s wife, she arranged and supervised the various ceremonial and entertaining aspects of the job, and was evacuated together with her two young children to Puerto Rico during a civil war in which the deposed President was rumored to be living in her embassy. The family returned to New York in 1966 when her husband joined the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, and in 1967, moved to Asuncion, Paraguay, where her husband and she again opened the first Israeli embassy. During their diplomatic years she coped with war, terrorism, hurricanes, and earthquakes. She continued acting, mostly in Spanish, during her postings, and led her family in outdoor adventures on five continents on epic vacations.

Following her husband’s retirement from diplomacy, they settled in Brookline in 1972. While he wrote, raised funds for Israel, and taught at Boston University, she acted with Boston area theater companies including the Lyric Stage, Worcester Foothills, and the Nickerson Theater in roles that included Mrs. Alving in Ghosts, Esther in The Price, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Edith Frank in Meyer Levin’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, the Grand Duchess in You Can’t Take It With You, Bubbie in Crossing Delancey, and many roles in new plays and new play readings.  She appeared in locally shot films, industrials and commercials, and worked as a print model. During these decades she also wrote three volumes of poetry, Thoughtprints, Wind Chimes and Late Harvest, worked as a translator (she was fluent in English, Spanish, German, Hebrew and French, and capable in Russian, Yiddish and Guarani), and traveled the world.

She is survived by her son, Leonard (Amy Woodward), of Hingham, Massachusetts, daughter Daniela of New York City, grandchildren Aaron (Gail Rosewood) and Anna, nieces Ruth Ullman, Nina Dunn, Lillian Laserson, nephews Henry and Michael Hirschhorn, with their families, and by Sarah Nakato Luke, who from  2004 was a live-in caregiver first for her husband and then for her, allowing them to live out their lives in their home as was their fervent wish. She was predeceased by her parents and her siblings Michael, Renata, and Gregory.

Funeral services will be at Bigelow Chapel, Mt. Auburn cemetery, 580 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge on July 6, 2021 at 1:30 p.m.  Interment to follow at the cemetery. Donations may be made to The Actors Fund or Appalachian Mountain Club.

To view the livestream of Miriam’s service, please click here.

Nancy M. Levy

July 1, 2021

We share with you now the profound loss of someone we deeply loved and the world will miss. Nancy Levy died suddenly on late on July 1st, 2021. She had a very fragile heart and it could not survive one final incident. Nancy was a very special woman, who made friends easily of everyone she met- from fellow teachers, to many people at her new long-term care facility, to every mailperson, handyman, salesperson, etc. She was deeply spiritual and her temple describes her as the backbone of their congregation. Nancy touched many lives and made a huge difference in this world. She will be missed by many, many people, especially her sister, Ellen, and her 30-year-old son, Micah. Contributions can be sent to B’nai Or of Boston at their website   or mailed to B’nai Or of Boston PO Box 400715 Cambridge, MA 02140.  Please earmark any contributions to the Nancy Levy Spiritual Development Fund.  Shivas will be held on Zoom, Tuesday and Thursday night and in person on Weds night. For more information on attending a Shiva Minyan, contact Julie Leavitt at injewel1@gmail.com or marilynpstern@gmail.com. Traditionally, Jews say ‘May Her Memory Be for a Blessing.’ Those of us who knew Nancy echo this and also know that, without any doubt, Nancy Levy was a blessing for us all.

Funeral service on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at 1:30 pm at Congregation Or Atid, 97 Concord Rd., Wayland, followed by interment at Beit Olam East, 42 Concord Rd., Wayland, MA.

Service can be viewed here

Ruth Loeb Forrest

June 29, 2021

Ruth Loeb Forrest, 88, beloved mother, grandmother, long-time Newton resident, and nurse, died on June 29, 2021.

Ruth will fondly be remembered for her kindness, care for those in need and commitment to social justice. Ruth’s greatest love was her seven children and twenty grandchildren, giving them the gift of her attention and love. She also taught her children and grandchildren what it meant to live a life of purpose, conviction and resilience.

Ruth enjoyed cooking large family dinners and vacations on the Cape.   She loved art and enjoyed taking painting classes into her later years. Her artwork is cherished by her family.  Ruth volunteered at Temple Shalom pre-school, baking challah on Fridays and cultivating the children’s creativity through art. She was a loyal Red Sox fan and was thrilled to be at Fenway Park with her son to witness the Red Sox win their first World Series at home in 95 years. Ruth enjoyed being surrounded by her grandchildren, and also loved her dogs and grand-dogs.

Ruth was one of the last remaining survivors of the M.S. St. Louis, a ship that carried 900+ Jewish refugees from Germany to Cuba and back to Europe in 1939.  She and her family eventually settled in Elmira, NY, and she moved to Boston in 1958 to attend Beth Israel Hospital’s Nursing School.  Ruth volunteered to share her story, despite the pain in doing so.

Ruth was predeceased by her husband Martin, her brother Armin Loeb and her parents Bella and Leopold Loeb. She leaves behind seven children, Lisa Baron (Paul) of New York, NY, Susan, (Nick) of Killingworth, CT, Robert (Pam) of Bethesda, MD, Steven (Paula) of Natick, Richard (Heather) of Newton, Jonathan (Debbie) of Bethesda, MD, and Barbara (Peter) Sullivan of Newton.   She will also be greatly missed by her twenty grandchildren who adored her, and her two nephews. Services will be private. Donations in her honor may be made to Jewish Vocational Services of Boston or The United States Holocaust Museum.

Irma Dana

June 29, 2021

Dana, Irma (Hirsch), of Mashpee, formerly of Newton, MA, on June 29, 2021. Beloved wife of the late Norman L. Dana for 51 wonderful years. Daughter of the late Morey and Helen (Goldstein) Hirsch. Devoted mother of Steven A. Dana and his wife Nancy, Harvey M. Dana and his husband Gustavo Berroeta, Audrey Kradin and her husband Rick, and Faith Burns and her husband Joseph. Cherished grandmother of Ashley, Jared, Hilary, Taryn, Mallory, Samantha, Jaclyn, Alex, and the late Melissa Rose. Proud great-grandmother of Gunnar, Kareena, Bryson, Lilah, Joshua, Archie, and Penelope. Graveside service at Sharon Memorial Park, 40 Dedham St., Sharon, MA, on Friday, July 2, 2021 at 10:45 am. Following services, memorial observance will be at the home of Audrey and Rick Kradin until 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in Irma’s memory may be made to the Melissa Rose Kradin Foundation, 37 Fillmore Ln., Walpole, MA 02081.

Vitaly Berkovich

June 27, 2021

Berkovich, Vitaly, age 62, of North Grafton, MA, passed away June 27, 2021. Beloved husband of Mila (Soyfer) Berkovich. Devoted father of Lenny Berkovich, and Sabina Shtilman and her husband Dmitriy. Proud grandfather of Jonathan, Isabella, and Elijah. Dear brother of Rolina (Berkovich) Levin and her husband Alex. Proud uncle of Eugene Levin and Gary Levin. Devoted son-in-law to Tatyana Soyfer.

Vitaly has lost his battle of 4 years to Glioblastoma (brain cancer). He fought very long and hard with hopes of getting better and having a cure one day.

Vitaly was a very kind and lovable person.  Without hesitation, he would drop everything and go out of his way to help friends and family. He loved to travel with his wife,  and  together they traveled Europe, the Caribbean and across the states. One of Vitaly’s ultimate plans had always been to visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Fortunately, two years ago, during his remission, Vitaly was able to take his dream trip with his wife.

Vitaly was born in Riga, Latvia, where he met and married his wife at age 21. They had two children, and in November of 1988 they immigrated to United States with just five suitcases to fit all of their belongings and to start a new life.

In the United States, Vitaly started to work odd jobs at first, in order to provide a better life for his family.  He and his wife were able to sponsor all of their extended family and even some friends to the United States and help them gain a better life as well. Vitaly was a very hard worker, and he was even more devoted to his family.  He always wanted a better life for his children and his family. One way he was able to accomplish this was that with his wife by his side they grew and built a successful business that allowed him to provide a life of which he had always dreamt. Vitaly was very much loved and admired and will be dearly missed.

Graveside service at Puritan Cemetery, 776 Baker St., West Roxbury, MA at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

 

Leonard N. Zinman, MD

June 26, 2021

Leonard N. Zinman, MD, FACS, FRCS (Hon), Professor of Urology and one of the founding fathers of reconstructive urology, passed away on June 26, 2021.

Dr. Zinman was a graduate of Boston University and Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed his surgical training at the Boston VA and Urology Residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was inspired by both Drs. Wyland Leadbetter and W. Hardy Hendren to pursue a career in genitourinary reconstruction. He joined the Lahey Clinic in 1964 before embarking on fellowships in Reconstructive Urology with Mr. Richard Turner-Warwick at the Institute of Urology in London, England from 1967-68, and Renal Transplantation at Middlesex Hospital from 1973-74 with Mr. David Innes Williams at Newcastle Royal Infirmary, New Castle, England.

Dr. Zinman, whose career at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center exceeded 50 years, founded the Center for Reconstructive Urologic Surgery at the Lahey Clinic in 1973.  While at Lahey he served as residency program director from 1970-1990, and Chairman of the Department of Urology from 1986-1993.  In 1987, Dr. Zinman co-founded the Society of Genitourinary Reconstructive Surgeons (GURS) with Drs. Gerald Jordan, Charles Devine, and Charles Horton, and served as president in 1992.

During his long and distinguished career, Dr. Zinman made significant, innovative contributions to the field of urology. His academic work includes over 130 peer-reviewed published manuscripts, multiple textbooks, and numerous visiting professorships. At Lahey, Dr. Zinman was instrumental in creating one of the finest urologic reconstructive centers in the country. His pioneering efforts changed contemporary reconstructive urology, helping improve the lives of patients worldwide. In his own words:

“Our major contributions over the past three decades have been the development of techniques to repair radiation injuries, male genital cancer, integrated use of axial muscle and myocutaneous flaps with oral mucosa onlay grafts in long segment high risk strictures, the adjunct use of antiproliferactive antifibrotic injectable agents, and the use of alternative grafts.”

Dr. Zinman won numerous awards during his career, including election to the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons (1994), Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (2010), AUA Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), Society of Genitourinary Reconstructive Urologic Surgeons (GURS) Lifetime Achievement Award (2019), and the Frank Lahey Award (2019).

Yet, the true impact of Dr. Zinman’s career is not encapsulated by the awards and achievements he received during his illustrious career, rather, by the profound impact he had on all those who knew him.  Dr. Zinman had a passion for medicine and insatiable thirst for knowledge and inquiry.  He loved his patients and colleagues, and we all loved him back. In addition to improving patients’ lives, he trained countless residents, forever impacting future generations of urologists.

The urologic community has lost a visionary surgeon, leader, and friend. We will forever be grateful for the impact he had on all of us.

Dr. Zinman leaves behind his beloved wife, Roberta (Green) Zinman of Canton, his son, Eric Zinman of Cambridge, and loving brother Murray Zinman of Connecticut and the late Samuel “Sonny,” Israel, Beverly, and Ethel Zinman. Dr. Zinman was the son of the late Harry and Gussie (Katz) Zinman.

As an expression of sympathy, contributions may be made to the Reconstruction Urologic Surgery Fund in memory of Leonard Zinman, MD, sent to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, c/o Philanthropy, 41 Mall Rd, Burlington, MA  01805.  You may also donate online here.

Betty Friedman

June 22, 2021

Betty Friedman, 92, of Weston, FL and West Orange, NJ, passed away on June 22, 2021. Beloved wife to the late Joseph Friedman. Devoted mother of Mark Friedman (Carol Friedman) and Richard Friedman (Jan Shoyer). Dear grandmother of Eric, Emily, Ross, and Celia. Proud great-grandmother of Aiden and Gavin and another on the way.

Services are private.

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