Irwin Berman passed peacefully on Sea Island, Georgia, on August 19, 2019, after a series of prolonged medical challenges. Dr. Berman was predeceased by his wife of nearly 5 decades, Linda Friedman of Richard, Virginia, who passed in 2010, as well as his late-life partner, Gail G. Rose of St. Simons Island, who passed in 2018. He is deeply mourned and fondly remembered by his daughters Laura and Jennifer; his five grandchildren Ethan, Samuel, Jackson, Maxwell and Isabelle; as well as their families and friends.
For 83 years, Dr. Berman lived purposefully and generously, dedicating his life to medicine, healing and the arts. A Baltimore native, Dr. Berman left Maryland to attend Washington and Lee University, after which he earned his M.D. at Virginia Medical School (MD). He began his surgical training at Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center (currently Langone) in 1962, after which he worked at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. He served a tour in Vietnam, extending his research efforts on combat casualties during and after the TET offensive. For this patriotic service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
In 1969, Berman joined the teaching faculty of New York University Medical Center, where he served as an associate professor of surgery. From 1978-1979, he served as a fellow in colon and rectal surgery at the Lahey Clinic (then located in Boston, Massachusetts). Dr. Berman later moved with his family to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to establish a specialty practice in neighboring Brunswick.
During his medical career, Dr. Berman published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in surgical journals and invented a number of diagnostic tests and medical devices still in use today.
In addition to his gift for healing, Dr. Berman was a dedicated and prolific artist throughout his life. His original works of art were exhibited in New York, New Orleans, Florida and Georgia. Along with his wife Linda, Dr. Berman was committed to the collection of important works of art, and over the years, the pair donated their collections to many important museums.
Dr. Berman has been on the board of several major museums and donated works to the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (NYC), the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Chicago Art Institute, University of Oregon Art Museum and The University of Virginia Art Museum. Upon his donation of Jean Dupas’ panels from the SS Normandie, Dr. Berman was made Benefactor and Fellow for Life of the Metropolitan Museum. At the Baltimore Museum, Dr. Berman is a sustaining contributor to the Jean and Allan Berman Textile Department and Gallery, enabled by his family’s endowment.
In his hometown of Brunswick, Georgia, Dr. Berman’s numerous philanthropic efforts included ongoing support of Temple Beth Tefilloh’s architectural and building projects, support of two community symphonies, Faithworks Homeless Ministry, Safe Harbor Children’s Center and the St. Simons Island World War II Homeland Museum.
Though grief-stricken by his loss, his family is sustained by these memories and recalls Irwin Berman’s impactful, distinguished life with pride and gratitude.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 21 at Temple Beth Tefilloh, followed by burial at Palmetto Cemetery. A festive celebration will be held afterward at Ocean Forest. Shiva will be held that evening. In addition, a life retrospective exhibit of Dr. Berman’s artwork called “Irwin Berman 24/7” will be open to the public at Brunswick Stewdio, 1407 Newcastle Street, August 29-September 30. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made in Dr. Berman’s name to Temple Beth Tefilloh.