Obituary of Ruth Berman

October 29, 2022

It was never unusual for me to receive two Halloween cards from my mother.

You might think Hallmark had her in its grips, but in fact, this two-Halloween-card phenomenon was born of something much deeper: a belief that it was always a good time to bring joy to someone you love, and when in doubt about which thing will bring the most joy, get both. That’s just who she was.

My mother, Ruth Ann Berman (née Hovanec), was born in Pennsylvania on December 20th, 1948. She was an only child, daughter of the ever-loving and cheerful Olga and Andrew Hovanec. She grew up outside of Chicago and attended Bradley University where she first met her husband and my father, Mark Berman. After college she moved to New York to obtain her Master’s Degree in Special Education. She was planning to move back to Chicago when, as the legend has it, her old friend Mark offered to drive her back. It was in Chicago that they would spend the next 40+ years of their lives.

My mother was a kindergarten teacher and the best there was. Room 109 at Hamilton School was her sanctuary and where she empowered hundreds of children with kindness, confidence, and the foundations of their education. She would always tell me, “I have the best days.”

She gave birth to me in 1984. She scratched my back as I was falling asleep. She made my Halloween costumes—my favorite of which was the constellation Cassiopeia. She made little “welcome home” scavenger hunts for me whenever I returned from camp or from staying with my grandparents. If there was ever a chance to show me that she loved me through her creativity and thoughtfulness, she took it.

Nine years ago she gained a son-in-law, Brad, and seven years ago, a granddaughter, Arden. She loved them both dearly, and our little core family of three became five.

Nine months ago my mother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She had always wanted to live in New York again, and so within a week of her diagnosis we moved her and my dad to NYC where she could be under the care of world-class doctors, and where we could all be together. Never one to be outdone by fate, she packed about 20 years of life and love into those nine months.

On Saturday, October 29th, 2022, my mother passed away, surrounded by her family.

A few days later, we began collecting some of her things from my parents’ apartment. I picked up her calendar and began to look through it when I noticed something orange underneath. It was a Halloween card, and not one, but two. They were for Arden, though my mom never had a chance to give them to Arden herself.

They now sit perched on my daughter’s bookcase—a final act of thoughtfulness.

A reminder that it’s always a good time to bring joy to someone you love.

And when in doubt about which thing will bring the most joy, get both.


Should you wish to make a donation in my mom’s honor, please consider one of the two inspiring organizations below:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

My mom adored her doctors and nurses and was ever grateful for the research that gave her as much time as possible.

Safe Humane Chicago

My mom was an animal lover through and through and would have loved her memory to live on in the wellbeing of animals.

Funeral Services

Memorial Service

November 5, 2022

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Greenwich Village Funeral Home

199 Bleecker St.

New York City, NY 10012

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