Emily Berkman, who died peacefully at home in her daughter’s presence, will be greatly missed by her children Janet (Zouheir), Frances (John), and John (Jennifer); grandchildren Alexander and Michael, Deborah, Hugh, and Claire, and Jack, William, and Emily; and sisters Edith and Joyce (Douglas). She was predeceased by her husband Franklin Berkman (1986), and her siblings Ross, Bill, and Lillian Gear.
Born in Toronto, Emily attended Hughes School, Oakwood Collegiate, and University of Toronto Medical School (1949). She interned in Ottawa and trained in OB-GYN in Philadelphia before returning to Ottawa to practice. Besides running a thriving practice, Emily trained numerous residents and served on the council of the Canadian Medical Protective Association.
She married cardiologist Frank Berkman in 1958. With three children born in four years, she skillfully juggled work and family life, in part by having her medical practice in her home, and by delivering babies at the Civic Hospital, which was across the street from her home/practice. Frank died in 1986 and Emily retired from full-time practice a couple of years later.
Emily was active for over 60 years at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, serving as the congregation’s first female elder. She was also deeply committed to the ministries of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union. After retiring she helped found and was volunteer medical director at the Hospice of All Saints (Hospice Ottawa) and served on the provincial palliative care association. In 1999 she was awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers Award by Governor General Romeo LeBlanc.
Emily was known for her joyful and welcoming personality, her attentiveness to everyone she encountered, and for inviting students and others in need to live in her home once she was an ‘empty nester.’ Emily loved spending time at the cottage, swimming in the lake, cryptic crosswords, Scrabble, attending theatre with friends, and musical events featuring her children or grandchildren. She had an active prayer life, juggling multiple prayer lists as part of her daily quiet time.
Her funeral will be held at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 971 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa on Monday, January 27 at 11 am. There will be a visitation at the West Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 150 Woodroffe Avenue ( at Richmond Road ), on Sunday, January 26 from 3:00 - 6:00 pm. If desired, donations may be made in her memory to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship or World Vision.