Ira Nerken

A very good man with a great heart.

Shirley L. Daniels  


Two memories of our classmate Ira Nerken.

1) While we were seniors, Ira, who was active in the anti-war movement, asked Elihu Club to organize a fund-raiser for a friend of his.  His friend claimed that the Nixon administration had hired people to break into his psychiatrist’s office and search his file.  We all loved Ira but we were very skeptical.  We humored him by putting on a fund-raiser for his friend, Daniel Ellsberg.

2) At the end of his life, after a life full of activism and turning negatives into positives (e.g., his work with grief groups after his wife died tragically in a car accident), I went to visit Ira.  He was very weak, but full of joy at recalling all that he had done.  He looked at me and reflected :”It’s sad to die with your song still in you.  We have certainly sung our songs, haven’t we?”  I had to agree.  Ira had certainly sung his song and added his unique voice to so many causes.

Mick  Smyer


Ira was one of the bona fide intellectual heavy weights in our class, possessed of the kind of high octane brain that I worried everyone at Yale, except me, would have. Happily for us mere mortals, there were relatively few folks that operated on Ira’s lofty level, and Ira himself was such a gentle, tolerant soul that he seemed not to mind that most of the rest of us were out of his league. I was proud to be his friend.  

Sam Stumpf


In the spring of 1968 I attended a social gathering at the home of Ira Nerken’s family; like me, he was waiting to hear if he’d been accepted after 11th grade; we both were, and I saw him now and again in the years that followed.  Because privacy is never adequate, I  heard about his illness in Boston when I was in medical school there, and then learned with great sadness, years later, that he had died of an unrelated medical problem.  He was a very fine human being and I  am saddened that we have lost him.

Henry Schneiderman

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