When thinking about her late husband Neil Berlin, Alicia Berlin remembered a man who allowed his personality to shine through in his work for the Jewish camp he loved.
Neil Berlin, who died Feb. 25 at 44 years old, had been the director of operations at Camps Airy and Louise. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017.
“All of the kids and staff knew him because he was the guy who drove the golf cart a little bit too fast around camp. He ran game shows in camp all the time. … He had cameos in our big shows at camp and would always wear goofy costumes and have some scene where he would make a fool of himself,” said Alicia Berlin, director of Camp Louise.
“And that, I think, spoke to who he was, and spoke to so many people coming to the funeral and so many people reaching out recently,” continued Alicia Berlin.
Neil Berlin grew up in Pikesville and served as a bar mitzvah tutor. He attended Camp Airy as a camper, later becoming a counselor.
“We always tried to make sure that he had the values of being a good person, and working to help others,” said Neil Berlin’s father, Dr. Steven Berlin, who lives in Pikesville with his wife and Neil Berlin’s mother, Sherry Berlin. “Jewish life was important to us growing up, to instill in him and his sister, and that you don’t look just to help yourself, but you look to help other people around you become better people.”
He normally found ways to keep working in some capacity at Camps Airy and Louise, including as a volunteer during the summer, until he began working there full time in 2015 as its director of operations. In that capacity he handled many of the camp’s backend responsibilities, including helping families with financial aid and helping to guide the camp through the pandemic.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Neil Berlin to serve on a Maryland youth camp safety advisory council, working to help all of Maryland’s camps prepare to reopen in 2021.
“He loved camp, fiercely, with a passion,” Alicia Berlin said.
While they had previously been friends, Neil and Alicia Berlin began dating in 2003, she said. She noted that they had similar values regarding Judaism and the importance of family. And of course they shared a passion for camp.
Neil Berlin is survived by his wife, Alicia Berlin (née Block); children, Hannah, Marissa and Ellie Berlin; parents, Dr. Steven Berlin and Sherry Berlin (née Norwitz); father-in-law, Robert Block; sister, Beth (Matt) Cohen; sister-in-law, Nadine (Henry) Rosendale; and nieces and nephew, Avery, Micah and Harper. He was predeceased by his mother.