Martin Berdit, 87

Veteran, activist

August 09, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Martin Berdit, a retired consultant and community activist, died Sunday of liver cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care. The Columbia resident was 87.

Mr. Berdit was born in Wilmington, Del., and raised in Philadelphia. He was a 1938 graduate of Overbrook High School and served in the Army in the Philippines during World War II.

After being discharged from the Army in 1946, where he attained the rank of sergeant, he earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a master's degree in social work, both from the University of Pennsylvania.

From 1957 to 1961, Mr. Berdit was executive director of the Community Chest in Lacrosse, Wis. During the 1960s, he was director of the Head Start program in Cleveland.

He moved to Columbia in 1969 and worked in the health care field and as a consultant until retiring in the late 1990s.

Mr. Berdit volunteered with the Black Mental Health Alliance, Community Justice Law Center and the Coalition for Downtown Columbia, and he was a member of the 5th District Democratic Club.

He enjoyed exercising, reading and writing poetry.

A celebration of his life will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at 5174 Phantom Court in Columbia.

Surviving are his wife of 60 years, the former Lilyan Dietz; a son, Avery Berdit of Mount Airy; a daughter, Morna Berdit of Columbia; and two grandchildren.

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