August 19, 1909 - May 13, 2013
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Dr. Hedda Bolgar, an internationally renowned psychoanalyst and educator, died on May 13, 2013 at the age of 103. Dr. Bolgar was born on August 19, 1909 in Zurich, Switzerland. Her father, Elek, was a prominent historian and diplomat who was once Hungary's ambassador to Great Britain. Dr. Bolgar's mother, Elza Stern, was a journalist and one of only two female war correspondents during World War I.
Dr. Bolgar received her Ph.D. in Psychology in 1934 from the University of Vienna. Hedda was a friend of Anna Freud and was one of the last people still living who had attended Sigmund Freud's lectures. Dr. Bolgar publicly criticized the Nazi regime, and in 1938, after learning that her life was in danger, she fled Vienna the day the Third Reich annexed Austria. After she arrived in the United States, Hedda traveled to Chicago and began a postdoctoral residency at Michael Reese Hospital. Later on, she trained at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute and was on faculty at the University of Chicago. Her husband and great love, Dr. Herbert Bekker, an economist, was able to join her in the U.S. in 1940. Herbert died in 1973.
In 1956, Hedda and Herbert moved to Los Angeles, where she was Chief Psychologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital and where she established a postdoctoral residency program in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. In 1969, Hedda was instrumental in founding and developing the California School of Professional Psychology, one of the country's first independent schools of professional psychology. In 1970, she was a founding member of the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS), a pioneering psychoanalytic institute still in operation today. In 1974, Dr. Bolgar and three colleagues created Wright Institute Los Angeles (WILA), which houses an internship and residency program in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and a non-profit, mental health clinic offering intensive long-term psychotherapy at low cost.
In addition to being a prolific educator, Hedda Bolgar was a brilliant psychoanalyst and a gifted teacher and lecturer. During her 80-year career, she guided countless mental health professionals and patients. Until a week before her death, she continued to teach, see patients, and plan new endeavors to help others. At 103, she was the oldest member of the American Psychological Association (APA).
Hedda's compassion for others extended to animals; she was a lifelong vegetarian and always had room in her heart and her house for cats who needed a place to call home.
Hedda is loved beyond words by countless people. She leaves behind numerous loved ones, including her grandson, Alex, his wife, Katy, and her great-grandson, Laszlo.
A requiem mass will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, 7501 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles on Friday, May 17 at Noon.
Donations in Hedda's honor may be made to The Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic at Wright Institute Los Angeles (WILA), 9911 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90035 or to the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS), 12011 San Vicente Blvd, Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on May 14, 2013