Irene Berns of Rye passed away on October 24, 2017 at The Osborn, where she had lived for a number of years. This summer, she celebrated her 90th birthday with family and friends at a luncheon at La Panetière.
Born in Riga, Latvia, on June 23, 1927, she was the daughter of Max and Helen Brussovansky. The family traveled through western Europe to escape the Nazis, eventually making their way from Portugal to New York City in December 1940. In 1944, she graduated from the Calhoun School on Manhattan’s West Side as salutatorian. She then attended the University of Vermont and in 1948 graduated from Barnard College, where she majored in French and International Studies. During college, she studied for a year at the University of Geneva. She obtained her teaching certificate at Marymount College in 1955, and her Master’s in Education in French and Russian at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1965.
For many years, she taught languages at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, where she was proud to have started the Russian and German language programs. She also taught French and Spanish, and was fluent in Italian. She kept up her reading in several languages until recently.
Irene believed that teaching foreign culture was a essential to teaching a language. An accomplished cook, she often invited her language classes home for Russian, French, or German-themed dinners. Both before and after retirement in 1982, she was active in foreign travel and student exchange programs. In 1975, she attended the University of Moscow on a U.S. government grant to study the teaching of Russian language and culture.
In April 1949, she and Richard T. Berns were married at her parents’ apartment at The Majestic on Central Park West in Manhattan. They were married for 53 years. Richard was a travel agent until his retirement, and they traveled frequently around the world. She continued her travels after her husband’s death in 2012, and in recent years she visited Germany, Italy, England, and Switzerland with her children.
She was the loving mother of Mitchell Berns (Kimberly) of Rye, Barbara Klein (Gregory), and Diana Bern;, cherished grandmother of Austin and Lindsay Klein and Max, Blake, and Henry Berns; and great-grandmother of Anora Irene and Eden Rose. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her dear brother Victor Brussovansky.
Donations in remembrance of Irene Berns may be made to the Arthritis Foundation, P.O. Box 96280, Washington, DC 20067, or online at www.arthritis.org (“Honoring and Memorials” tab under the “Donate” tab).
A graveside memorial service was held October 27 at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson. To place an online condolence, visit www.zionchapel.com.