Irene Berezesky, 66, pathology instructor, O's fan

April 14, 2002|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,SUN STAFF

Irene Berezesky, a longtime researcher and pathology instructor at the at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died Thursday of cancer at the university's medical center. She was 66.

Though she had only an undergraduate degree and broke into her field when few opportunities were available for women in science, she achieved prominence as an educator, author and researcher in a career that spanned four decades.

She was also a devoted fan of the Baltimore Orioles, attending so many games over the years that she became well known to the ushers and vendors at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards.

She and her friend, Patty Butler, held season tickets since 1992, and attended every spring training since then as well as several World Series games. When illness forced her to miss this year's opening game, her absence was noted by stadium staff.

"As soon as I walked in, the ushers at the door wanted to know where she was," said Mrs. Butler. "The vendors wanted to know, the security wanted to know. She was a very friendly person, and everyone knew her passion for the sport."

Ms. Berezesky, who lived in Owings Mills for many years, taught graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows in cell pathology. Her main interest was the role played by calcium in cell injury and death.

"She was extremely devoted to her work, and worked long hours in the lab and at night," said Dr. Benjamin Trump, a former pathology department chairman who worked with her for 25 years. "She was very well liked and appreciated by the students, postdocs and residents."

Although she considered him her mentor, Dr. Trump said, "She was a real inspiration to me."

She wrote or co-wrote nearly 100 papers that were published in scientific journals, and for seven years was assistant editor of the journal Toxicologic Pathology. She served on the organizing committee of the Aspen Cancer Conference.

Raised in Springfield, Mass., she graduated from Boston University, where she majored in biology. In 1957, she became a research assistant in pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and worked in the pathology department at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda from 1961 until 1973.

That year, she started a career at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that would last until her retirement in 1999.

At the medical school, she taught many postdoctoral fellows from Japan and Finland, and kept in contact with many after they returned home.

"She was a woman of remarkable achievement, considering what her educational background was," said her sister, Shirley Gutry of Chappaqua, N.Y. "She was a very interesting person who loved talking to people."

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Charles Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane, Pikesville.

Donations may be made to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, 22 S. Greene St., Baltimore 21201, or the UM School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, 655 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore 21201.

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