Leo H. BerkMarch 2, 1939 ~ November 23, 2017 (age 78)
Leo Harold Berk, M.D.
Resident of Monte Sereno
March 2, 1939 - Nov. 23, 2017
Leo Harold Berk, M.D., passed away at home in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day after a courageous battle with adenocarcinoma of the lung which caught him off guard because he never smoked.
He was born in Coco Solo Naval Hospital, Canal Zone, to Vivian Johnson Berk and Harold Robert Berk, M.D. He leaves behind his wife Marty of 52 years, his daughter Karen Crawford (Nate) of Hillsborough, CA, his son Bill Berk (Abby) of Coronado, CA, and grandchildren Tyler & Colt Crawford and Chloe, Dylan, & Logan Berk who all adored their grandfather. He is also survived by his sister Ruth West of Huntington Beach, CA, niece Cyndee Ely (Jon), nephew John West (Kat), and five grandnieces and grandnephews. Because his mother was from a family of eleven and his father was from a family of seven, Leo was blessed with many extraordinary cousins.
Born into a Navy family Leo moved often, attending thirteen different schools. When his father was stationed at Whidbey Island, WA, Leo and his sister would fish at Oak Harbor where, according to Ruth, he allowed her to row the boat and volunteered to share her sandwich. He taught himself to fly fish and tie flies. Wherever he lived, he joined the local Boy Scout troop and earned Eagle Scout rank while in Alameda, CA. He graduated from Encinal High School in Alameda, where he was quarterback of the football team until he had a serious knee injury, student body president (unopposed according to an article in the school newspaper), and valedictorian of his '57 class. In high school he also ran track, played on the golf and basketball teams, and attended CA Boys State.
Leo attended Stanford University on scholarships and enthusiastically joined Sigma Chi fraternity. After receiving an F deficiency notice in chemistry his freshman year, he decided he needed to buckle down if he wanted to get into medical school, ending up with an A in the course. He worked every summer to pay for his college expenses, and in his junior year he served as houseboy for Stanford University President, Wallace Sterling and family, a highlight of Leo's life.
During his junior year at Stanford, Leo applied to medical schools just for practice, but Stanford, UCLA, USC, and UCSF all sent him acceptances. Deciding UCSF was best for him, he entered medical school in 1960 after three years at Stanford. He spent ten years at UCSF, including residencies in general surgery and plastic and reconstruction surgery. In addition he spent one year as chief resident of general surgery at Harvard's Beth Israel Hospital. His junior year of medical school after going to a Cal football game, he went with friends to a Kappa Delta Sorority twenty-five cent spaghetti dinner fundraiser where he met Marty.
For two years during the Vietnam War Leo served at St. Albans Naval Hospital, Queens, NY, as a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. In 1972 the family moved to San Jose, CA, where he began a private practice which he thoroughly enjoyed. Leo also began coaching soccer and baseball, managing a team of Los Gatos Little League all stars, including his son Bill, all the way to the Little League World Series in 1984. Hard work and preparation for any situation was Leo's strategy, and with the help of outstanding athletes, excellent coaches, and enthusiastic fathers and mothers, getting to Williamsport was a dream come true. The city of Los Gatos gave keys to the city to the players and coaches.
Retiring from private practice, Leo and Marty built a vacation home in Montana where Leo relished in his passion for fly fishing and fly tying, enjoying one last successful fishing adventure there in July and August. During retirement Leo also pursued his love of golf, shooting a hole in one at La Rinconada Country Club. He delighted in gardening, too, particularly growing gorgeous alstroemerias and roses which he shared with friends and family.
Through the years Leo particularly enjoyed: serving as Boy Scout District Chairman, 1972-75, belonging to the San Jose Surgical Society and serving as president in 1983, membership in the Saratoga Men's Club, and being a Stanford football season ticket holder for over 50 years.
Most people felt comfortable around Leo because he was honest and humble. The boys he coached called his office and asked for Leo; his office manager Judyjane used to laugh because she called him Dr. Berk. He listed his occupation in the LRCC membership directory as flyfisherman. Leo always said he would not leave any monuments; his legacy would be his children and his grandchildren.
Special thanks go to the angels from Sutter Health Hospice of the Valley.
There will be a private burial at Los Gatos Memorial Park.