Charmaine Spencer, colleague 1/16/05:
I’m very sad to hear of the recent death of your mother Edith Lisansky Gomberg. I cannot begin to
describe how important we consider Edith’s work on substance use issues, particularly as they related to
older adults. She was a genuine pioneer in this area, working on the issues decades before anyone
else thought about older persons.
I have always loved reading her publications because they were written with genuine joy and passion,
and caring. We have lost a great thinker and wonderful resource.
Please pass my condolences (and those of many other researchers and clinicians in Canada) to your
family. She is sadly missed.
Charmaine Spencer, Adjunct Professor
Department of Gerontology
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Maureen Kelly, former student 1/17/05:
Oh, I am so, so sorry to hear about Edith's death! I have not been a good
correspondent in the last year or so, so much going on and my own negligence,
but I have been thinking about her a lot lately and missing her. Finally got the
birthday card off and planned to call soon...
She was a hero to me, a role model, and a wonderful friend. You and I met a few
times, in Washington and Ann Arbor, and she talked about you all the time, so I
know how close the two of you have been and can only imagine how hard this must
be! Judy, please extend my sympathies to your family, and let me know where I
can send something. I would love to hear about any memorial if you can keep me
posted without too much trouble.
Anne Gurnack, colleague 1/18/05:
Thank you for letting us know of Edith's passing. I was very fond of your mother. She consistently gave me good advice
and helped me with with my last two books. We traveled together to a few meetings and had lots of fun.
I particularly remember meetings in Wash DC and Cincinnati. Larry, Edith, Dick Finlayson and a few others went out to
a Spanish restaurant there. I remember Edith sitting there with her "one" beer telling us stories about U Michigan. A
good time was had by all. Let me know when the memorial service is in Ann Arbor.
Dr. Anne M. Gurnack
Professor, Department of Political Science and Law
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Sherry Hansen, former student 1/28/05:
I just wanted to tell you directly how kind and thoughtful your mother was to me. First ,as an instructor in the School of
Social Work, where I took my first class from her called Women and Alcohol.
I am the Director of Social Work at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry and developed the Dual Diagnosis program
here. I am sure the class was the thing that spark my interest. I invited your mom several times to talk at the Center,
which she did. It was always fun to have her speak. She was such an honest soul in the way she related to you. She
encouraged me to get my PhD. ( Unfortunately I wasn't accepted by U-M - I didn't look elsewhere because I needed to
stay in A2) But she always made you feel at ease and understood. I just wanted to let you know. I'm glad I had an
opportunity to contact you. And I am so glad I met your mother. You had a really special mom.
Betti Dulberger, friend 2/16/05:
Edith and I worked at Camp Eden for two or three summers when we were teen agers [approx 1936-39]. We became
fast friends to a degree that we drove the Director, Chaver Bernstein , almost mad. He would always say "If I am
looking for Edit I'll find Betti and if I look for Betti I will find Edit!" Edith and I did everything together and we got into
some scrapes together too. But we did have good summers and then during the fall and winter after camp our get
togethers were filled with "Remember this...and remember that" and gales of laughter.
Milton was also a counselor at that time but they were not romantically involved then.
I am so sorry that I did not get a chance to renew my friendship with Edith....I am so proud to have known her and have
always remembered her through the years with a smile.
I shall look through my old albums for pictures of our gang at Camp Eden and send them to you.
Jeff Smith, former student 1/16/05:
I took Edith for a couple of classes in substance abuse while in graduate school .We often disagreed. After I joined the
Older Adult Recovery Center in Ann Arbor, we saw each other more frequently and I came to an appreciation of her
positions. There is no denying that along with Zimberg, Atkinson, Finlayson and the "Larrys from Florida" she was a
pioneer in how to reach and treat older adults based on empirical evidence. I might also add her research in to how
substance abuse manifested itself in women was equally if not more groundbreaking than her older adult work. No
credible comprehensive treatise on the substance in older adults or women is complete without at least one cite from
Edith's work and our field is poorer for her passing but richer because of the great body of work she left us.
Jeff Smith, MSW, JD
Elder Law Attorney / Gerontological Social Worker
Chuck Adelman, friend 2/28/05:
I am a friend and classmate of Steve’s since 10th grade at Hamden High School (Class of ‘64) and at Brandeis
University (Class of ’68).
I have great memories of Edith from my teen years when she was one of the first adults I knew who was a leftist, and
who understood and encouraged thoughtful rebellion by young people. She even approved of youthful anti-war
demonstrators who were picketing the Connecticut State Capitol building as she was walking to work as a legislator. "If
you are 20 and not a communist you've got no heart. If you are 40 and are still a communist you've got no head", or
some such sardonic observance. I really appreciated that.
She also once completed a thought that I had at the beach when I noted that the waves had been lapping at the
shores for eons before we existed and she observed “and they will keep doing so long after we ‘pop off’!”
Although I had not seen Edith for many years I will miss her . . . a great soulful scholarly Jewish mom.
Lisa Schwartz, neighbor 3/21/05:
I was so sorry to hear that Mrs. Gomberg had passed away....My family and I moved to the end of the street late in
1995. I met her a number of times in the following years as she was out getting the mail and walking her dog.
Not knowing anything about your mother's life, I had often thought over the past years what an incredibly strong
woman she was. Many, many months would go by without sight of her, just knowing she was in the house with
wonderful care and then periodically on a bright sunny day she would be standing outside with a smile on her face. It
always made me smile to know that she was up and about with her wits about her.
I only just found out that she passed away in the neighborhood news letter and decided to go online to find out a bit
more about her. What an incredible life and full life! I am again so sorry for your loss.
May you & yours be blessed with the knowledge that she is truly always with you and all around you.
Steven Roeder, friend 3/23/07:
I was the last graduate student of Henry Gomberg before he passed in 1995. As Edith and Henry were inseparable,
Henry would drive Edith to do her speeches around Michigan when he could. One time, though, he could not and I
drove Edith to The University of Michigan- Dearborn campus so that she could do a speech there one week night. She
was a delight to talk to in the car, paid for my pizza (which is a big thing as a grad student) while she spoke, and then
we both got back to Ann Arbor safely late that evening. I came over to their house often, and Edith seemed to always
be outside working on the yard. They always were passionate about their animals, and even more so when I had to
help dig a grave for one of their dogs in the back yard. They were true lovers of life. Edith had a strong impression on
me- very forceful with her opinions, but well thought-out and she was always right. It was always a treat to be invited
over to their beautiful place. Henry Gomberg was an icon within the Nuclear Engineering sector- but it was always cool
to hear him answer “Yes dear” to Edith’s comments around their house- he definitely knew she meant business!!! I’ll
always remember her yelling “Hen-reeeeee” to summon Henry that I was there! She was a great lady.
Angela Ginorio, former student 5/28/07:
“Oh don’t worry about it--you would not have had enjoyed Yale anyhow!” That was Edith’s response when I told her that
I had not been admitted there for my Ph.D. studies. That was a typical Edith response, one that diminished worry and
pointed out the importance she placed on enjoying life.
I don’t have any memories of Edith’s classes, for I never took a formal course from her. But I was one of her “adopted”
students, those she mentored and encouraged as much as those for whom she was a formal advisor or teacher. First,
there was the advice about graduate school--where to apply and where not. (I must confess, I applied to Yale University
in spite of Edith’s advice not to.) Then there were the conversations about what was important in psychology and in life.
Of course, there were the parties full of delicious food, lively music, and good stories. At times of disappointment, there
were always encouraging words, and in times of joy the celebratory notes.
In my visits in Ann Arbor she made sure I met her friends, ate in her favorite restaurants, and heard the latest stories of
family and friends. We did not keep a regular correspondence, but when we talked or wrote it was as if we were picking
up a conversation from last week. For Edith, life was rich and to be shared; she shared with gusto and generosity. We
shared with gratitude for all her gifts, and love for the teacher who became a friend.
Angela Ginorio, PhD '79
Associate Professor, Women Studies
University of Washington, Seattle