Passing of WESPAC member Mitch Berkowitz
Mitch Berkowitz, a devoted member of WESPAC for many years, died of cancer in September 2017. Born in 1927, he was proud to have reached the age of 90.
The son of immigrants from Romania, Mitch grew up in the Bronx. During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy. Inducted on VE day, May 8, 1945, he was among the many men being trained to support the anticipated invasion of mainland Japan. Instead, he was posted to the naval hospital in Brooklyn, where he attended to ill and dying dependents of service members.
As he looked for a suitable job as a civilian, a friend suggested offset printing. Mitch was eager to learn the trade, but he also wanted to bring the printing plant into the union–Lithographers Local 1. After several false starts, he achieved both goals but was promptly fired for his union activities. Eventually he was hired at a shop that was already unionized, where he worked for several decades.
He retired at age 61 and found this last chapter of his life the best occupation of all. He loved to read, classics and contemporary novels, nonfiction, and political journals that enhanced his understanding of such issues as the inequities between the wealthy and the poor, the determination of capitalism to thwart socialism, the conflict between the drive for war and the desire for peace. He participated in antiwar marches in New York City and Washington, throughout the administrations of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I and II. It was with great pride, and plenty of hope, that we watched Barack Obama’s first and second inaugurations (by this time. neither of us had the stamina to make the trip to DC).
Mitch much enjoyed doing volunteer work for Wespac, and taking part in the annual picnics on the Lamont estate. One of the memories I have of assisting with Mitch at the Wespac office was talking to Phyllis, whose son had lost his life in one of the World Trade towers.
Mitch will be remembered for his humor, idealism, generosity, devotion to causes he believed in, and all-around decency.
Submitted by Susan C. Joseph