Ray R. Berman, a former professor in Northern Arizona University’s College of Business Administration, died peacefully Dec. 5, 2008, at his Gilbert, Ariz., home. He was 87.
Dr. Berman was born June 7, 1921, in Mannheim, Germany. As a teenager, he and his family immigrated to Palestine (now Israel) to escape the rising tide of Nazism. He met Hilda, who also came to Palestine from Germany, and they married in 1941. Dr. Berman served in a Jewish-Palestinian unit of the British Army during World War II and participated in the North African campaign against the Germans. After the war, he served in the Hagana, the illegal Jewish underground that later became the Israel Defense Forces after the formation of the state of Israel.
Dr. Berman immigrated to the United States in 1950 with his wife and young son so that he could study to become an engineer. He obtained an engineering degree from Fenn College in Cleveland. After becoming a naturalized citizen, he earned his master’s degree from UCLA and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.
He came to Flagstaff in 1972 to accept a teaching position at Northern Arizona University where he taught for several years in the College of Business Administration.
During his 20 years in Flagstaff, he and his wife were instrumental in forming Flagstaff’s first Jewish Congregation and were active in the mid-1970s to prevent condominium and country club development on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. He and his wife were environmentalists and admirers of Navajo and Hopi art and culture.
After 51 years of marriage, Hilda died, and Dr. Berman moved to the Valley, where he met and lived with his longtime, loving partner, Fay Shamas. To the end, he remained a clear thinker, an engaged debater, an avid reader and a world traveler. He supported environmental and Jewish causes and enjoyed many of the Valley’s cultural offerings. He was a real-estate broker for many years and managed his own investments.
He is survived by his partner, Fay Shamas; sons Hanan (Susan) of Seattle, Ami (Brenda) of Flagstaff and Dan of Flagstaff; stepson Richard Shamas (Iris) of Gilbert; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
He was buried Dec. 8 at Mesa Cemetery.