Neal Borenstein, MD - 1945-2021

Neal Borenstein, MD, died on September 2, 2021, in Portland, OR, in the same way he lived his life –quietly and contentedly, surrounded by those who loved him dearly, his wife, Gerri Borenstein; daughter, Dana Alley; son, Jeffrey Bloom; and his dog, Winston. A self-effacing man with a wry sense of humor, Neal was tall in stature and a gentle giant in his field of psychiatry.

His life began in Boston, MA, in 1945, the son of Samuel and Zelda Borenstein and brother, of Henry Borenstein, growing up in Newton and attending Newton North High School. Neal went to the University of Pennsylvania as an aspiring English major and after graduating in 1967, found himself at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, studying to become a psychiatrist.

Graduating in 1971, he went on to complete his fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry from Harvard Medical School. His long career in psychiatry started as a captain in the U.S. Army at a military hospital in Bloomington, IN. He then returned home to MA, where he served as the psychiatrist in residence for the Middlesex County Court, Cambridge, MA. This began an important chapter in his career, providing psychiatric counseling to those who were incarcerated in state facilities.

In 1986, Neal moved to upstate NY, where he became the head of psychiatry at the Central New York Psychiatric Center, Marcy, the only state mental health facility housing the criminally insane population. This was probably the most challenging assignment for any psychiatrist in the state of NY, which Neal took on with his characteristically unassuming demeanor.

A number of years later in 1990, Neal opened his own private practice in Clinton, where he and his family resided after moving from Boston in the late 1980's. In addition to serving a growing list of private patients, Neal was the senior psychiatric consultant to The House of the Good Shepherd, The Lutheran Home, Hamilton College and Colgate University. This was a very satisfying period of his career, as he counselled many young people with his soft-spoken insights and advice as they grappled with life issues.

He became a very recognizable character around the town of Clinton with his office located above the old Clinton Movie theater and where his patients were greeted with the scent of popcorn from the weekend's double shows. He would always be dressed in his tweed sports jacket and "button down" tattersall shirt with an ink stain in the breast pocket. In the summers, Neal could be seen driving to the office in his 1978 blue Fiat convertible, with the top down – one of his many vintage cars that he kept too long.

Besides his family and his profession, Neal had a true admiration for penguins. Where this obsession came from, nobody really knows, but it manifested itself in hundreds of penguin statues, buttons, pillows, pens, hats and other penguin memorabilia on display at Neal's offices at work and throughout his house. We can say for sure now he is "at peace with his penguins."

Neal loved his licorice which he bought from a local Amish market and was quick to share with anyone. He savored sushi, ate every Italian restaurant's version of Utica greens and Frutti de Mar and soused everything with the hottest of hot sauces. Neal relished his coffee and was proud of being called a "coffee snob." And he was his happiest at the ocean. A lover of the water--hot or cold, he and Gerri traveled widely to reach sandy shores-- from the Caribbean to California to Cape Cod.

Neal served on the Board of Directors for The Foundation On Economic Trends (FOET) and was the Central New York representative for the New York State Psychiatric Association. He was also a proud and committed Utica Rotarian, where he was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow award and Community Service Board Member for more than 20 years. He served as an adviser to students from other countries and was a host "dad" to young students from England, Hungary and New Zealand. For years, Neal had a regular tennis game in Clinton, which he so enjoyed and it often showed a fiercely competitive side of him that was mostly masked by his calm demeanor.

Even with all his various passions, Neal was first and foremost a caring and loving father. A tinkerer and scientist at heart, he enjoyed helping his son, Jeff, with an online physics class and various science fair projects. They also loved playing golf together at the Skenandoa Golf Club. His love for the arts was equally expressed through his photography, sharing his passion for film cameras with Jeff, in their basement darkroom. He also appreciated ballet, chamber music and even taking pottery classes in recent years with his daughter, Dana. Never one to miss a soccer game, tennis match or track and field event, he always showed up ten minutes early to make his presence known to the kids.

He leaves behind his wife of 40 years, Gerri; his daughter, Dana Alley; his son, Jeffrey Bloom and daughter-in-law, Beth Bloom and their 17-month-old son, Jonah; his brother, Henry Borenstein and his wife, Suzanne; nieces, Jennifer and husband, Mike Sweeney and their daughters, Sophia and Anabelle; niece, Elayne Borenstein and sons, Nathan and Jeremy; his brother and sister in-law, David and Fran Cohen; and his life-long friends, Eddie Sooper, Barry Freeman and Jeremy Rifkin.

A virtual celebration of his life was held with his family and friends on September 8, 2021.

Donations in Neal's memory may be made to: CurePSP at 1216 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001 or online, at

The Global Penguin Society: