Friends and family remembered Gen. Philip Pushkin last week as a kind man who managed to make balancing family, friends, a military career, a position in government and a hobby as a handyman look easy.
“He was everything, actually,” said his wife of 54 years, Sandra. “He was a Renaissance man.”
She and Pushkin, both Baltimore natives, met on a blind date and were married in 1960. After two years spent stationed in Richmond with the Army, they returned to Baltimore, where Pushkin opened a private dental practice. When private practice proved to be too boring for Pushkin, who had experience with all kinds of dental trials in the Army, he took a job as supervisor of a county-run dental program for low-income Marylanders. From there, he was named director of aging for Baltimore County and, later, the county’s director of emergency management.
He also achieved the rank of brigadier general in the National Guard, something he — a Jewish boy from Lower Park Heights — took special pride in, noted his wife.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Pushkin earned a reputation as a neighborhood Mr. Fix-It. When the family moved to a new neighborhood with no kids old enough to shovel for an extra buck, Pushkin took it upon himself to snow-blow neighbors’ driveways and paths. In the summer, he and Sandra played host to the area kids who would congregate at their pool.
“He couldn’t sit still,” said Sandra of her husband’s multitasking. “He needed to be busy.”
That desire to be everywhere all the time paid off for many, Sandra noted. She and her husband made friends everywhere they went, many of whom attended Pushkin’s funeral on Jan. 6. Sandra said she even met one woman there who told her that Pushkin helped her rise in rank in the National Guard and even helped her ill mother get into a good hospital. More than 60 people left messages for the family on Sol Levinson’s online obituary, remembering Pushkin’s sense of humor and eagerness to lend a hand.
“He was a person who wanted to help everyone that he could possibly could,” recalled Joey Malin, a family friend who officiated the funeral.
Pushkin was laid to rest at the Maryland Veterans Cemetery. He is survived by Sandra, his daughters, Stacey Klebanow and Amy Pushkin, and numerous other family and friends.