Harvey Barry Rifkin, M. D., of St. Francisville died February 4, 2014 in Baton Rouge of pulmonary fibrosis. He was the son of the late Hyman and Anne Siegal Rifkin and is survived by his wife of 36 years, Regina Meadows; his stepson, Phillip J. Schmidt, Jr.; his grandchildren, Jenna and Phillip Schmidt, III; his sister, Jill Yolen, and her family. A philosophy major, Dr. Rifkin graduated from the University of Florida in 1958 and then attended the University of Miami for a year to complete his pre-med courses to become a physician. Enchanted by New Orleans, he chose to attend Tulane School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1964. After completing his internship and psychiatric residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, he served as a prison psychiatrist at the U. S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, and at the Federal Prison in Lompoc, California, to fulfill his commitment to the U. S. Public Health Service. As a young psychiatrist in California, he was mentored by the late Eric Berne, M. D., and the late Jim Simkin, PhD, a noted Gestalt therapist and trainer. He returned to New Orleans in 1970 and served on the faculty of Tulane School of Medicine for three years before going into private practice in the greater New Orleans area. A modest man, he did not seek accolades, though his intelligence and integrity brought them his way. He served as president of the medical staffs of DePaul and Jo Ellen Smith Psychiatric Hospitals, as well as Methodist Psychiatric Pavilion. He served as a consultant on the Sexual Trauma/PTSD Unit of River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in River Ridge. Dr. Rifkin also served a term as president of the Louisiana Group Psychotherapy Society. Growing up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium as a small boy made him a lifelong N.Y. Yankees fan, which led to an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball. Later, after attending the University of Florida and moving to New Orleans, he became a dedicated Saints' fan and added football to that encyclopedic knowledge. Dr. Rifkin was a world traveler, a student of Judaism and the Kaballah, an animal lover and an all around extraordinary man. He had a droll wit, a loving heart and a deep caring and respect for his family and his many friends, co-workers and patients. A private burial was held and a memorial service will be held at a later date.
Published in TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com from Feb. 27 to Mar. 2, 2014