Society for Pediatric Pathology

In Memory of Our Departed SPP Members

Jay Bernstein

It saddens me to inform you that Jay Bernstein passed away on February 26, 2009. He was a founding member of the Pediatric Pathology Club (now the SPP) and a founding member of the editorial board of Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology. He later served the latter organ as a co-editor from 1978 to 1996, and he was an editor emeritus until the time of his demise. Jay was the fourth President of the Pediatric Pathology Club. He served on the Editorial Board of Pediatric Pathology from 1982 to 1987. In 1982, Jay gave the Fifth Sidney Farber lecture on the major topic of his career, Developmental Pathology of the Kidney. To this end, he published countless articles, starting in 1958 and continuing until 1999. He educated the Society on this topic by numerous abstracts and workshops, beginning at the First Meeting of the Pediatric Pathology Club in 1966 and ending with his Chairmanship of the Symposium on Hereditary Renal Disease at the Annual SPP Meeting in 1999. He spent most of his career working at Wayne State University and Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, serving as the Chairman of Anatomic Pathology at the latter institution from 1969 to 1989.

Jay will be missed by the many students and practitioners of pediatric pathology and nephropathology whom he taught and served.

David Parham, SPP President

With the loss of old friend Jay Bernstein in February 2009 comes another unneeded reminder of the fleeting passage of time while his contributions to medicine, pathology, and personally remain as a needed reminder of the endless continuity of our calling. Jay entered pediatric pathology during the halcyon post WWII days of training in Sidney Farber’s pathology department at the Boston Children’s Hospital. He followed my time at Boston Children’s by a year or two so that our training days never overlapped but we shared the indelible exposure to the now gone giants of pediatric pathology among Dr. Farber’s staff and trainees: Jim Arey, John Craig and Ben Landing and then later with our wider world of contemporaries eventuating in the Pediatric Pathology Club.

The history of knowing Jay parallels the history of the PPC and its successor the Society for Pediatric Pathology. An initial gathering together of the as yet undefined discipline of Pediatric Pathology came during the annual meetings of the IAP and Daria Haust’s evening sessions on Problems in Pediatric Pathology when invited participants discussed approaches to clinical problems. From these meetings at the IAP, two branches evolved: the PPC and Perspectives in Pediatric Pathology. Jay and the irrepressible Gene Perrin extended the initial call to the gathering together of like minded folks in a PPC to share experiences, focus on dogma that needed overthrowing and face shared problems that needed answers.

Jay’s presence was readily identified at our gatherings by his pointed questions and always pertinent, concise comments. Jay was great at networking, in our day known as collaboration. For the first volume of PIPP, Jay joined with our scholarly colleague John Kissane to describe, define and illustrate Inherited Diseases of the Kidney with clear exposition of the nature of cystic disease, a subject that occupied much of Jay’s professional life.

Early observations that the PPC was led by an “Old Boys Network” did not stray too far from the mark. Although eschewing exclusivity, the small group of participants was by necessity self perpetuating since there were so few of us from whom to choose. Leaders rose to the top: Ben Landing, Bill Donohue, Daria Haust, John Kissane, Bill Newton, George Fetterman, and Jay with the rest of us smart enough to follow their lead.

When the incomparable Bob Bolande opted out of PIPP editing chores, Jay rose to fill the breach. Although well occupied with administrative duties at home and his ongoing studies of renal diseases, after a time of reflection he assumed the duties of co-editor, starting a partnership that remained unbroken through the completion of our last volume. As editors, we shared the few highs and commiserated in the many lows. Success was far from uniform. We shared recruiting and editing duties but he left the onerous task of dealing with publishers to me offering his usual pungent comments and advice.

Jay described himself as acerbic to which those of us who knew and dealt with him would agree but it was never a mean acerbic but pointed with his intolerance for pomposity, wordiness and lack of clarity in thinking and writing. Jay’s observations were direct, well described as straight from the shoulder. He and I communicated by phone, rarely by letter. He never developed a liking for email, my communication method of choice. There was a defensive aspect on my rarely writing to him since I could sense him editing my letters and high-lighting every grammatical slip and split infinitive and my misuse of that and which. Perhaps because of the geographic distance between us, we could openly share many of the buffetings that life threw our way. For me it was always nice to have him as a sounding board knowing that there would never be a soothing balm but rather an incisive dissection of the circumstance and how to deal with it.

He now joins all the other occupants of my mind’s shadows that only need memory to bring in the light. I miss him.

Harvey Rosenberg
June 29, 2009