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Dr. Leonard Berman, prominent Buffalo surgeon ; Nov. 23, 1920 -- Dec. 19, 2010

Dr. Leonard Berman, a prominent Buffalo surgeon, died Sunday in his Williamsville home. He was 90.

Dr. Berman practiced for about 45 years at Buffalo General Hospital and Women & Children's Hospital, operating on more than 20,000 patients.

He also trained hundreds of surgical residents as a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University at Buffalo Medical School, becoming an associate professor emeritus in 1999.

In the 1960s, sports fans knew him as physician for the Buffalo Bisons baseball team and the Buffalo Bisons hockey team. He also lectured around the nation and internationally on Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and wrote articles and chapters on it for numerous medical journals.

Dr. Berman was elected president of the Erie County Medical Society in 1972 and served as president of the Buffalo General Hospital Adjunct Medical Board and its Physicians' Association.

He was inducted into numerous prestigious surgical societies, including the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the American Board of Abdominal Surgery, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the Collegium Internationale Chirurgiae Digestivae and the Founders Group of the American Board of Abdominal Surgery. He also was a fellow of the Buffalo Surgical Society. He has appeared in "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare."

Founder and chairman of the Rose and Al Pastor Annual Distinguished Lectureship at Women & Children's Hospital, he and his wife served on the Pastor Lectureship Board for more than a decade.

In the early 1970s, he also served on the Western District Appeal Board for the Selective Service System and the executive committee of the Women's and Children's Research Foundation of Children's Hospital.

Born in Detroit, he graduated in three years from Wayne State University Medical School, then interned at Philadelphia General Hospital. He continued his residency and postgraduate fellowship at the University of Minnesota.

In 1949, Dr. Berman completed his surgical residencies at Buffalo General Hospital and Children's Hospital, as well as a fellowship with Dr. Elmer Milch, who later invited him to join his surgical practice.

While he attended medical school, Dr. Berman worked as a salesman and chemist for his family's manufacturing business; the company initially produced consumer soap products and later, chemicals for the war effort. He also served seven years as a doctor in the Navy and was discharged as lieutenant commander in 1949.

During high school in the 1930s, he was a baseball player and was offered a tryout with a Detroit Tigers farm team but chose to attend college instead. He befriended legendary Tigers first baseman Hank Greenberg in those years, and they regularly played handball together.

He and his wife are founding members of Temple Beth Am in Amherst. He also is a 60-year member of the Grand Lodge of the Masons. He was interviewed about his medical school and postmedical school experiences for Leonard Levitt's 1981 book, "The Healer," and appeared under the pseudonym Harry Lewis.

He and his wife, the former Judith Goldenberg, recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Survivors also include two daughters, Susan Berman Hammer and Alison; a son, Todd; and a twin sister, Leonore Bernstein.

Services will be at 1:30 p.m. today in Temple Beth Am, 4660 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.


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