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Norman L. Avnet

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Norman L. Avnet Obituary
Norman Leslie Avnet, who came to Pittsfield in 1976 to become Chairman of the Radiology Department at Berkshire Medical Center, died on Friday, January 13, in Florida. He was 89.

Radiologist, medical professor, gardener extraordinaire, fisherman, outdoorsman, sailor, philanthropist, artist, avid world traveler, voracious reader, joyous chef and consumer of all foods from the pedestrian to the weirdly eccentric; "He was a true Renaissance man," said his daughter, Judy. "He had an insatiable and passionate appetite for life which he shared with all who were lucky enough to spend time in his world. He will be sorely missed."

Married for nearly sixty years to his beloved Rose Smilkstein Avnet, who predeceased him, he is mourned by his children, Judy Murphy and her husband Patrick, Mark Avnet and his wife Lisa, and Amy Avnet and her husband Jim, by his four grandchildren and two step grandchildren, and his devoted and loved partner of seven years, Selma Williams.

Dr. Avnet was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University and Rochester Medical School. He began his medical career as a specialist in pediatric radiology at the Floating Hospital in Boston in 1957, and was Head of Pediatric Radiology and Professor of Radiology at New York Medical College/Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City for 17 years before moving to the Berkshires. He loved sharing his knowledge and also served as Professor of Radiology at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The Berkshire community benefitted from his generous philanthropy and his active participation in many institutions and organizations. He was a founding member and served as president of BILL/OLLI as well as an enthusiastic participant in its classes and activities. His support of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival was recognized in the naming of the Avnet House on its campus. He founded and funded an endowment for the Berkshire Art Association, which provides an annual scholarship for a college art student through the Norman and Rose Avnet Fellowship.

From the beginning of the Berkshire Community College Foundation until he became too ill to continue participating, he was a member of its board, and he created a scholarship in honor of his late wife, Rose Avnet, which is awarded to a graduating BCC student each year. His donations supported major projects for Temple Anshe Amunim, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, The Berkshire Museum, and the Hancock Shaker Village, in addition to his annual support for numerous community organizations.

Dr. Avnet enjoyed sharing his gardens, which were featured several times in the annual garden tours of the Pittsfield Garden Club, and the jam he made from his own raspberry crop, which was treasured by those with whom he shared it every year.

The family requests that those who want to honor Dr. Avnet's memory may send donations in support of the National Audubon Society, The New York Botanical Gardens, or to the charity of their choice.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Jan. 22, 2017
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