Melvyn Berlinsky, 40-year member of MUSC's Board of Trustees, dies Friday

Tony Ciuffo

Nov. 4, 2011

Melvyn Berlinsky, 40-year member of MUSC's Board of Trustees, dies Friday

Colleagues credit his leadership, devotion to institution's rapid growth

CHARLESTON --Melvyn Berlinsky, whose 40-year tenure on the Medical University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees spanned its ascent from a state university hospital to a leading national academic health sciences center, died Friday at MUSC.

Mr. Berlinsky had been the board's lay representative from the 1st Congressional District since 1971. He was the board's vice-chair from 1990 to 1994. He served as a member of the Research Committee, the Hospital and Patient Care Committee, and as chair of the Education, Faculty, and Student Affairs Committee. He also served as the trustees' representative to the Hollings Cancer Center board.

Several university leaders Friday credited Mr. Berlinsky with helping to spur the institution's rapid growth dating back to the 1980s.

"I am greatly saddened by the passing of my good friend, Melvyn," said MUSC President Emeritus James B. Edwards, DMD. "Ann and I wish to express our deepest condolences to his wife, Joan, their three sons and their extended families.

"When I became president of the Medical University of South Carolina in 1982, Melvyn was on the Board of Trustees and was someone I looked to for guidance and advice," Edwards said. "In addition to our professional relationship, he was a close personal friend as well. He took great pride in his affiliation with MUSC, and, judging by its unprecedented growth during his tenure on the board, he did everything within his power to make it one of the nation's leading academic medical centers.

"His 40 years as a Board member provided a steadying influence as we sought to provide the people of South Carolina a place where they could not only receive compassionate, competent health care, but also a place where breakthroughs in biomedical science could become commonplace," Edwards said.

MUSC President Ray Greenberg, MD, PhD, said Mr. Berlinsky's devotion to MUSC was such that he was a constant presence on campus. "He loved the institution and attended virtually every public event, and even maintained an office on campus so that he could be close to what was happening here on a day-to-day basis," Greenberg said. "He was known and highly regarded by faculty, students, and staff across campus and will be missed deeply by all."

"Melvyn and his wife, Joan, adopted my wife, Leah, and me when we arrived in Charleston," Greenberg added. "His family always treated us as if we were part of their own."

Layton McCurdy,MD, College of Medicine Dean Emeritus and Distinguished University Professor, knew Mr. Berlinsky for 43 years and said he could always count on his support. "He was dedicated and always available to help in difficult situations," McCurdy said. "I will always remember his kind and thoughtful manner."

"Melvyn was one of the finest civic leaders Iíve ever known," said retired U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings, for whom MUSCís cancer center is named. "He had such a love for the Medical University. He was always there troubleshooting any problems and involved in the development of a lot of the projects they had going on."

Mr. Berlinsky, who served in the U.S. Army in World War II and completed his education at The Citadel following the end of the war, owned and operated Berlinsky's Men's Wear/New York Tailors with his father until his retirement in 1984. He was appointed to the local Board 10 Selective Service Commission by President John F. Kennedy and reappointed by President Richard Nixon.

He was chairman of the Region 9 Law Enforcement Task Force and served on the U.S. Department of Justice Servicemen in Planning for the Criminal Justice System. He was a member of the Elks, Masons, Shriners, Lions, Association of Citadel Men, St. Francis Development Foundation and Hebrew Benevolent Society and a founding member of the Creekside Tennis Club.

Surviving are his wife, Joan R. Berlinsky, his children, Bruce, Fred and Shelli, and Lee and Claire; grandchildren, Harris, Drew, Tyler, Alex, Ryan and Niki. Mr. Berlinsky was born December 9, 1926, the son of Hyman and Tillie Berlinsky.

Funeral services will be held graveside at Synagogue Emanuel Cemetery (Maryville), Sycamore Ave., Charleston, South Carolina on Sunday November 6, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. The family will receive visitors afterwards and until Tuesday at the family home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Medical University of South Carolina Foundation - Melvyn Berlinsky Fund.