BERTRAM SCHAFFNER
{ "" }
Share
Share BERTRAM's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
SCHAFFNER--Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 97, renowned as a psychiatrist and widely known as a collector of Indian art, died in his sleep on January 29, 2010. The son of Milton and Gerta Herzon and raised in Erie, PA, Bert began his university studies at Harvard at the very young age of 15, transferred to the Honors Program at Swarthmore College, graduating in 1932 and completed his medical education at Johns Hopkins in 1937. Following a residency at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital and further training at Bellevue Hospital and the New York State Psychiatric Hospital, Bert served with the U.S. Army, first evaluating the mental fitness of draftees and then with the 10th Armored Division as a neuropsychiatrist (seeing active combat during the Battle of the Bulge); at war's end, he was called to serve at the Nuremberg trials and then served on the denazification process for the American Military Government, service which lead to the publication of his seminal work Father Land (1948) widely used in University courses and by those setting up anti-nazi democratic systems in Germany. After the war, Bert took further training with the William Alanson White Institute in New York City, with which he was associated for most of his career as a psychiatrist, teaching, advising and leading. During these years he was active in promoting mental health initiatives in the Caribbean, serving on the Expert Committee for Mental Health of the United Nations, advising the British, French and Dutch island governments in the West Indies on their mental health programs, and assisting numerous other international organizations. Never abandoning his private psychiatric practice, he was a leader in the study of the problems of homosexual practitioners in the medical world; he was proud of being one of the very first doctors to treat AIDS patients, writing articles seeking more humane attitudes and treatment for them, and from the 1980's forward, he dedicated much of his professional efforts to helping HIV/AIDS patients and the health care providers who ministered to them, continuing to receive patients at his home office until shortly before his death. Also well known as a collector of Indian art, an interest spurred by his participation in a Brooklyn Museum trip to India in 1966, Dr. Schaffner travelled often to the subcontinent and became a beloved member of the arts community in New York, serving on the Collections Committee of The Brooklyn Museum, to which he was both devoted and one of its major donors. Author, prizewinner, compassionate psychiatrist and a model of what it means to be a friend, Bert is survived by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert Edward Schaffner, two nieces, and many cousins in all parts of the country, as well as a host of professional colleagues and close friends from all walks of life. A memorial service will be held at a time subsequently to be announced.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times on Jan. 30, 2010.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
7 entries
March 4, 2010
Unfortunately I was only able to meet my uncle's uncle twice, once at a wedding and once while I was visiting him during a business trip to New York.

In the hour I was able to visit him during my trip, Dr. Schaffner touched my heart more than anyone else has. His quiet, pensive demeanor, his modest comments about his tremendous achievements and the gifts he's given to contemporary society, and his overly-superior intellectual capabilities have been an inspiration to myself, as well as anyone I've spoken with that has had the chance to meet him.

I feel truly blessed to have had Dr. Schaffner in my extended family, and in my life.

Rest in peace, Bertram. You will be forever missed.
Peter Kruse
February 10, 2010
Bert Schaffner was a dear man. Also a deeply insightful and excellent therapist. He made a colossal impact in the area of HIV/AIDS and his humanity was a balm to those he reached. His life was well lived and in my memory - he will live on.
Mark Koenig
February 6, 2010
My sincere condolences. I've known Bert for 20 years. At the outset, , he helped me a great deal, impressed me with his humanity, and gave me tools to move forward. It was an honor to see Bert's clear mind at work and for him to become my friend in the last decade. He was such a loving man. Across the years I learned of and admired him for his far-reaching contributions to society, recently reading & discussing with him his revised book, "Fatherland". Such selflessness, discipline, appreciation of others and brilliance is rare. I was blessed to cross paths with him, and I'm extremely grateful for having known him. He will be missed, but live on in the hearts & minds of the many he met.
Barry Schneider
February 3, 2010
Bert Schaffner touched my life in a very profound way. His kindness toward me and deep compassion helped me deal with the many difficulties one encounters in life.

I can never forget this man for whom I had a special love.

Kena Hodge Zaid
Kena Hodge Zaid
February 1, 2010
To Bert's Family my sincere condolences.

Bert gave to all those who he came in contact with.
He was a wonderful Doctor, a loving friend, a special man who was able to take the pain he had suffered and turn it into the help he provided and shared with all those around him.

He loved life, he loved art, he loved collecting, he loved travel, he loved learning about cultures which were foreign to him,

He was and will remain an inspiration to me. I have known him over 40 years and I still remember all the things he told me and shared with me. Through therapy with Bert I learned how to cope with my life, how to move on. I still am learning from him and I will carry the memories and learnings from him with me always.

Ellen LEE GOLDÉ
Ellen LEE GOLDÉ
February 1, 2010
To Bert's Family my sincere condolences.

Bert gave to all those who he came in contact with.
He was a wonderful Doctor, a loving friend, a special man who was able to take the pain he had suffered and turn it into the help he provided and shared with all those around him.

He loved life, he loved art, he loved collecting, he loved travel, he loved learning about cultures which were foreign to him,

He was and will remain an inspiration to me. I have known him over 40 years and I still remember all the things he told me and shared with me. Through therapy with Bert I learned how to cope with my life, how to move on. I still am learning from him and I will carry the memories and learnings from him with me always.

Ellen LEE GOLDÉ
February 1, 2010
To Bert's family I send my thoughts of sincere condolence.

He was my therapist for many years, he was my friend for many more and a friend to my family as well.

Bert was special to all who's life he touched.

In his own discomfort with interpersonal relationships he learned and shared his compassion and knowledge with others.

He was kind, he was sensitive and he loved discovering the wonderful aspects and arts of cultures foreign to him.

He brought that love of life and beauty to the Brooklyn Museum as well as his family, friends and patients.
Just a few months ago I went thru the museum and stopped off to see all the Indian Sculptures he had already donated to them.

He will be missed by everyone who knew him but he will Never, never, never be forgotten.

Bert I loved you and miss you.

Kisses, and Hugs.
Ellen LEE GOLDÉ
Ellen LEE GOLDÉ
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences