Stony Brook University mourns the passing and celebrates the life of Evelyn Berezin, a longtime friend of the University and a pioneer in the field of computing whose towering achievements were matched only by her powerful vision and generous spirit. Berezin died in New York City on December 8, at the age of 93.
“Evelyn Berezin spent a lifetime defying expectations and pushing the boundaries of what is possible,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., “and her guidance and generosity have helped empower Stony Brook University and its students to do the same. Her friendship has made Stony Brook a stronger institution, and we will forever be grateful to her.”
Berezin leaves behind a staggering list of accomplishments highlighted by her development of the first computer-driven word processor and the first computer-controlled system for airline reservations. She also started and ran her own company at a time when a woman CEO in the technical world was nearly unheard of. She holds nine patents and two honorary doctorates and, in 2015, at age 90, was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum for her accomplishments in computer design and her entrepreneurial spirit.
Her expertise in both business and technology was invaluable as Stony Brook rose from its humble beginnings to become a highly respected research institution and a member of the American Association Universities. Berezin joined the Stony Brook Foundation Board in 1985, and served on the Investment Committee, eventually moving to emeritus status in 2016 after more than 30 years of service.
“Evelyn always believed in the impact that Stony Brook can have on future generations,” said Rich Gelfond ’76, chair of the Stony Brook Foundation board. “From her service on the Board, and throughout the University, she helped make so many dreams a possibility and allowed countless people to realize their potential every day.”
In addition to her wisdom and leadership over the years, Berezin leaves behind a significant philanthropic legacy. A longtime supporter of the Stars of Stony Brook Gala, Berezin has funded the Sam and Rose Berezin Endowed Scholarship for more than 20 years, providing full-tuition scholarships for undergraduate students studying science, engineering, and mathematics.
An additional endowment, named in honor of her late husband, Israel Wilenitz, provides discretionary funds to the Linguistics Department, where Wilenitz earned a master’s degree in 1998, following his retirement. Berezin’s philanthropy also included a planned gift in her will, which will create an endowed faculty position.
Stony Brook University remembers with gratitude the life and work of Evelyn Berezin.
– Elliot Olshansky