Sidney W. Berke
June 27, 1933 - January 10, 2022
May his memory be a blessing
In lieu of flowers, we request donations to Paws in Paradise, a sanctuary for elderly, hospice, and special need pets (https://pawsinparadise.org).
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THE PUBLISHED OBITUARY:
Sidney W. Berke
B. June 27, 1933
D. January 10, 2022
Sidney W. Berke died peacefully in his sleep at 11:08am on the morning of January 10, 2022. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lois R. Berke; his children, Robert Berke (Lorena Espinoza) and Alice Berke (Adam Dunn); his four grandchildren, Rebeccah, Emily, Benjamin, and Nakayla; and his two beloved yorkies, Belle and Buddy.
Why did you name your dog “buddy,” dad?
Because he’s my little buddy!
Sidney, who remained a licensed attorney until his death, was retired from a career in public service with his last position being the Director of the Office of Administrative Adjudications for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. He was considered an expert in the field of administrative adjudications and motor vehicle law and had taught, published, and lectured on the subject nationally.
He spent his final years at the Coburg Village Retirement Community where he will be remembered for his love of song and laughter, having been a member of the choraleers and the Tai Chi group until the end. He was a natural tinker and loved “playing in the dirt” in his garden.
Sidney was proud of his service in the United States Army during the Korean War and requested to be buried in a veteran’s cemetery. He will be interred at the Saratoga Veteran’s Cemetery on Friday, January 14, 2022 following a brief memorial and graveside service commencing 2:30pm.
Sidney had always said that he would die with a smile on his face. And he did.
MEMORIAL FOR UNCLE SID
by Adam Tow
Sid's beloved nephew
For over 32 years, Uncle Sid and Aunt Lois have been a constant presence in my life; and in every way that matters, have been like grandparents to my siblings and me. As we remember Uncle Sid today, I am overcome with a profound sense of gratitude for having had the privilege to have such special people in my life.
Uncle Sid was a paragon of honesty, unwaveringly happy in every circumstance, and a pillar of support to all who knew and loved him. Uncle Sid was a fixture of my childhood, starting me off in my boyhood coin and pocket knife collections, and giving me my first lessons in carpentry down in the basement at 852 Hereford Way. It’s because of him that I went on to develop a lifelong passion for woodworking, building furniture including the Aron HaKodesh (Torah Ark) at our synagogue, and the coffee table and dining table in my house today. In many ways, it was Uncle Sid teaching me to use power tools as a kid that laid the foundation for my profession as a dentist today. Uncle Sid was a big influence on the man I have become and I could always count on Aunt Lois and Uncle Sid to be front row at graduations and simchas, sharing most of my life’s important moments along the way.
Though they were certainly different in some ways, Uncle Sid took a great many praiseworthy attributes from his father R’ Meyer Berkowitz z”l, including most famously, his positive attitude and unflinching honesty. I could not have been more blessed to have had such amazing male role models in my life, and the legacy of high ethics was something I saw manifestly passed from Zaide, to Uncle Sid, to my Dad. I could not be more proud to have come from a family of people of such fine morals and values, and the bar has been set quite high for me as I begin my own journey as a father to the next generation.
I had the privilege to have my great grandfather and his two children, Uncle Sid and my Grandma Sally in my life, and anyone who knows me knows how much both Uncle Sid and Grandma shaped my personality, though polar opposites they were in many areas - politics especially! As different as they were, it was never in doubt that they were of like mind when it came to their mutual affection - their love as siblings was as clear as it was entertaining to watch them debate everything from opposite ends. The times I spent having family breakfast enjoying conversations with Aunt Lois, Uncle Sid, Grandma and the rest of the crew are some of my fondest memories. As I think back on Uncle Sid’s life, I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful times to remember.
I could not be more grateful for the countless hours of time, love, and warmth that Uncle Sid and Aunt Lois poured into our family. I can think of no other way to quantify my appreciation for what it meant to me than to say that I hope my own children will benefit from elders who are so devoted and kind to them. I love you, Uncle Sid, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have contributed to my life and the lives of everyone in my family. May your neshama (soul) merit to have nachas and pride from those you left behind in this world as you continue to bless us with precious memories we will carry with us throughout our lives.
I’m sure Aunt Lois will remember what I told her at my Grandmother’s funeral - that she and Uncle Sid now had even bigger shoes to fill as the grandparent figures in our lives. Well today that rings more true, Aunt Lois, and though I am regrettedly not with you to grieve together in person due to CoVid, we’re all holding you a little tighter today in our hearts, and reminding you that we’re always a phone call away, and thinking of you always.
When I heard the news of Uncle Sid’s passing I was inspired to write the poem that follows in his honor. I hope it is meaningful to you all. Sending love to the entire Berke branch of the Family and hoping to see you all soon in good health for happier occasions. – Love, Adam
The Death of a Good Man
A Poem for my Uncle Sid z”l
By Adam P. Tow
History is replete with names of kings and conquerors long forgotten, enrobed in a fame that has faded all but beyond the memories of men. If the emperors of old are resigned to but footnotes in unread books, what then of us? What is our legacy?
We have led no armies, ruled no empires, nor immortalized our names by the strokes of brush or pen. If even kings are lost to history, what shall become of us?
Fleeting are our days under the sun. The mightiest among us may rise above his fellow like the highest wave, yet all are ultimately crushed into emptiness by the dust of the shore. What of our accomplishments?
Might it not be our prominence in the pages of history against which we weigh our souls, but how engraved we have become in the hearts of our fellow? A life must be more than ink on a page, its worth measured instead in the mark we have left on those who knew us.
Perhaps it is not how high our tides rise, but the manner in which our wave breaks which is our truest measure? Many are the men, some with noble names remembered and common ones forgotten, whose legacy is vanity. The strongest wave is subsumed back into the sea, often with a mere whimper as it breaks over a still shore; but a wave humble and meek may spray the earth with countless tears as it crashes over the rocks.
Is there a life more noble or one more immortal than one which has warmed the heart of his fellow? Books can be lost, ink can fade, but the chain of righteousness binding one good man to those whom he leaves bettered in this world is unbreakable. The names of its links may be lost to memory, but the strength of their bond defines all that is good in this life. May we merit that it is our legacy, that we have forged our link thick and radiant, a hub of virtue connecting decent men past and future.
Alas, even when they may no longer know our names, the righteousness of our descendents is our greatest bequest and most lasting edifice.