Ruth Yorkin Drazen
Time of Service:
Thursday, January 28, 2016 11:30 am
Place of Service:
Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76 Street, New York, NY 10023
Entombment at Sanctuary of Abraham and Sarah, 735 Forest Ave., Paramus, New Jersey
We mourn the loss of Ruth Yorkin Drazen-mother, filmmaker and pioneer in genetics-who died quietly in her sleep on Monday evening at the age of 97. Ruth was born in Washington, PA on May 15, 1918, the daughter of Jesse Sachs Yorkin and Maurice A. Yorkin. Ruth adored classical music from early childhood on, studying piano at the Curtis School of Music with Henry Kaufman. In 1938 she married fellow Curtis student, Mario Berini, and they moved to New York City, where Mario began his career as a tenor with the Met. Their only child, Anton, died in infancy of a rare genetic disease, and Ruth's grief sparked her interest in curing genetic illnesses. She spent years working tirelessly as executive director of The Muscular Dystrophy Association and The National Genetics Foundation. When her second husband, New York attorney Jerome Drazen, died of prostate cancer in 1988, she developed an abiding passion for the subject of humanism in medicine, expressing it through the making of documentary films, which she continued to create into her early nineties. Her first film, "When Doctors Get Cancer," was a sensitive look at doctors treating other doctors, in the hope that it might make more humane the care that physicians gave, when they were able to observe themselves as cancer patients. Five other award-winning films followed, most of them shown on PBS. They included, "The Choice is Yours," the inspirational life of the great psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, "A Wayfayer's Journey; Listening to Mahler;" "Notes From the Edge, the Diary of Peter J. Morgan, M.D.," an intimate narrative of the last two years of the life of a 29-year old physician diagnosed with cancer, and "Healing Through Humanism," a five DVD teaching series devoted to the practice of compassionate medicine. Ruth was an intellectual and spiritual inspiration to everyone she touched, and will be sorely missed. Ruth is survived by a son, Myron Drazen and daughter-in-law, Lucille; a sister, Martha Yorkin Berman; two step-sons, Michael and Roger Drazen and seven grandchildren, Julie, Debra, Jacob, Dylan, Emily, Kate and Zoe Drazen. She was predeceased by a son, Anton Berini, as well as brother Alan "Bud" Yorkin; husbands Mario Berini and Jerome Drazen. Memorial service will be held at the Riverside Chapel, 180 West 76th St., in Manhattan on Thursday at 11:30am.