The University Record, July 23, 1996

OBITUARIES---John J. Brownfain & Sylvester E. Berki

John J. Brownfain

John J. Brownfain, professor emeritus of psychology at the U-M-Dearborn, died June 24 of a bone marrow disorder at home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 76.

Brownfain was instrumental in developing the psychology curriculum at U-M-Dearborn, where he joined the faculty as a lecturer in 1962. He was promoted to professor in 1967 and served the campus in numerous administrative roles, including a term as chairman of the Department of Behavioral Sciences. He was named professor emeritus in 1990.

He introduced a number of new courses on the campus covering a wide range of subjects including abnormal psychology, human sexual behavior, the psychology of adolescence and theory of personality.

A practicing clinical psychologist, Brownfain was chief of the psychology service at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Allen Park in 1950-1967. In addition, he was involved in numerous professional and academic organizations at the local, national and international levels.

"During the 1970s and early 1980s, when the U-M-Dearborn campus was growing at a rapid pace, Prof. Brownfain acted as a stabilizing influence and a mature presence on a faculty that consisted of an increasing number of young people, many of whom had little prior academic experience," the Regents noted when he retired.

"Throughout his career, Professor Brownfain demonstrated that he was a broadly educated teacher whose intellectual interests extended beyond the boundaries of his own specialty," Chancellor James C. Renick said. "In the best traditions of liberal arts colleges, he enhanced his teaching and found intellectual fulfillment through his interests in music, history, science and the arts."

"John was devoted to the arts and was especially dedicated to music," according to his wife, Florence. "He was an accomplished amateur pianist, and one of the pleasures of his later years was to play chamber music at the Interlochen summer program. Professional musicians visiting this area would often gather at our home to play and rehearse."

Brownfain was born in Philadelphia in 1920. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Temple University, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the U-M in 1950.

In addition to his wife, Brownfain is survived by his daughter, Ellen, who lives in San Francisco. His son, Benjamin, died last year.

Memorial contributions may be made to the U-M-Dearborn Student Scholarship Fund, 4901 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128-1491; or to the Benjamin Brownfain Memorial Fund of the Jewish Federation of Portland, 6651 Southwest Capitol Highway, Portland, OR 97219


Sylvester E. Berki

Sylvester E. Berki, professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health, died in Ann Arbor July 10. He was 65.

A health economist, Berki was particularly well known for his work on health insurance among the unemployed, health maintenance organizations and health systems networks. His book, Hospital Economics, published in 1972, is widely regarded as one of the foundations of the study of health economics.

"Berki was one of a handful of people who created the field of health economics 25 years ago," says John R.C. Wheeler, chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy. "This field now includes thousands of economists worldwide who are indebted to Sy for showing the way. Sy wrote one of the first books on health economics. It is still one of the best. He was the lead researcher on a team at Michigan that did some of the first research on HMOs. Of equal importance, he served as adviser and mentor to many young scholars and health care managers during his career."

Born Dec. 31, 1930, in Budapest, Hungary, Berki immigrated to the United States in 1946. He served in the U.S. Army where he saw combat in the Korean War.

Berki received his bachelor of science degree from Columbia University in 1957 and his master's degree from Yale University in 1958.

From 1963 to 1967, he served as assistant professor at Cornell University. He joined the U-M faculty in 1967, was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and to professor in 1977.

Berki served as chair of the Department of Medical Care Organization in 1980-86. Under his leadership, the department secured funding from the Kellogg Foundation to establish the Program in Health Services Management and Policy. He also consulted regularly with government and private agencies, including the Veterans' Administration Health Services Research and Development Program, the Institute of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute and the National Pharmacy Insurance Council. In 1988-89, Berki served on the Michigan Governor's Task Force on Access to Health Care.

Berki was a visiting professor at the University of Washington and a guest lecturer at several institutions in China. At the invitation of the Chinese Minister of Public Health, he participated in health administration and education workshops in Shanghai and Beijing. Berki retired from the U-M in 1995.

Berki is survived by his wife, Minnie; his children, Lisa, Matthew, and Andrew; and grandson, Eric.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Hillel Foundation, 1429 Hill, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.