Roberta (Bobby) Berwin (November 6, 1943 – February 24, 2023) grew up in West Los Angeles as the only child of Melvin and Frieda Lind. She met Harvey during high school through her best friend, Lynn Kaplan, and Harvey’s best friend, Barry Finkel. She and Harvey got married on September 13, 1964, exactly one week after Lynn and Barry’s wedding. After Harvey graduated from UCLA, they moved to San Diego for Harvey to continue his graduate studies, which Bobby has always said was the hardest move of her life, even though it was also the shortest move she would be taking. Bobby got a job as a secretary at the newly formed Medical School at UCSD, housed at the Scripps Institution, where she loved swimming with the dolphins on her lunch breaks, and chasing seagulls on the shore. She gave up that position when Brent was born in 1969. Harvey’s two postdoctoral positions brought the family to Leicester, UK, for a year, and to Ames, Iowa, where Melanie (Mel) was born in 1972. Shortly thereafter, Harvey was offered a job at the 3M Company in St. Paul, where Katie was born in 1976.
Having grown up with family instability, Bobby’s priority was creating a warm and stable family life for her children. She immersed her family in activities, including exercise classes, theater, and swimming at the JCC, Scouts (she was Den Mother and Girl Scouts leader), music lessons, membership at Mt. Zion and Temple of Aaron synagogues, and Hebrew school at Talmud Torah. She believed in the benefits of healthy foods, family dinners, exercise, and fresh air. Walks around the Lakes, bike rides along the Mississippi River, sledding and ice skating in the winter, and family car trips to National Parks and tourist attractions throughout the Midwest were frequent. When Mel and Brent started school and Bobby was home with Katie, she started daycare for other preschool children. When Katie began elementary school, Bobby worked part-time using her secretarial schooling. She eventually was employed by the University of Minnesota – first in the Department of Natural Resources, working her way up to Assistant to the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, where she worked until retirement.
As a family of transplants to St. Paul, Bobby connected with other Jewish families in the same position, creating a close network of dear friends for holiday and lifecycle celebrations. Her deep lifelong friendships with Sheila and David Brod, Maria Rubin, Fern and David Sanders, as well as the Farrell and Incremona families, modeled for her children the value of creating family among friends.
Bobby’s interest in people was evident in all aspects of her life. She went back to college when her kids were out of elementary school, earning a degree in Anthropology. She made friends in every exercise class she took, learned the life stories of all of her caregivers, and took interest in the lives of her kids’ and grandkids’ friends. She warmly welcomed people into her home, remembering those small details about people that even sometimes they’d rather she forgot.
Harvey and Bobby moved to Overland Park, Kan., in 2006, to be closer to Katie and her family. Katie and Chaim’s six children, Mel’s three children, and Brent and Kasia’s son are by far the highlights of Bobby’s life. She dedicated her time and energy to each of these ten grandchildren, delighting in every new phase and supporting them with activities and trips. Cooking, eating, and hosting were Bobby’s love language. While we have the recipes for her much-loved Macaroni & Cheese, and Oatmeal Scotchies, they just won’t taste the same without the love that Nana put into them.
During her retirement, Bobby prioritized her family, while also taking time for her own pursuits – exercise like PickleBall, water aerobics, and other classes at Matt Ross Community Center, reading and joining Book Clubs, sewing, cooking, and volunteering at various organizations – Trailwood Elementary School, Deanna Rose Farmstead, and the Johnson County Library Book Fairs, among others. She and Harvey enjoyed a number of trips together, including to Alaska, the Galapagos, Costa Rica, New Zealand, France, and Israel.
Harvey and Bobby were dedicated to each other through 59 years of marriage, and their connection only strengthened through her last years. Her kindness, generosity, care, and connection with each of us and her many dear friends and relatives will be remembered as a blessing.
Bobby is preceded in death by these dear family and friends: Melvin Lind (father), Frieda Lind (mother), Norma Jacobson (cousin), Lynn Finkel (friend), along with several aunts and uncles on both sides of her family. She will be missed greatly by her husband, Harvey Berwin, kids, Brent (Kasia) Berwin, Mel Berwin, Katie (Chaim) White, and her much-loved grandkids: Odin Bloch Berwin, Lev, Nava, and Ami Berwin Weingrad, Matan, Shoshana, Nachman, Noam, Orli, and Ben-Tzion White.
Funeral & shiva arrangements are being handled privately by the family.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to:
Jewish Family Services in KC (5801 W. 115th Street, Suite 103, Overland Park, KS 66211) or Shaare Shalom in St. Paul (2654 Quentin Ave. S., St. Louis Park, MN 55416).