BERNS--Philip A., died on October 5th at his home in Henderson, NV. He was 80. The longtime head of the San Francisco Field Office of the United .States Department of Justices Admiralty and Aviation section, Berns, a Staten Island native, worked for the Department for 44 years and was the lead attorney on some of the agency's most high-profile cases of recent decades, including the Exxon Valdez and Argo Merchant. Berns knew that a good piece of fish was a gift from the oceans he loved and the very best flavor in a shank of beef was found in the marrow. He loved Broadway musicals, a good Chinese restaurant and Fred Astaire albums "You could hear him sing AND dance." When asked in his final days whether he was comfortable, Berns paused for a three count and cited one of his favorite lines: "I make a living." He is survived by his wife, Jane; sons, David, Peter and Jay; daughters-in-law Debbie and Deann; and grandchildren Asia, Brittney and Ty.

Published in The New York Times on Oct. 13, 2013