Amherst Magazine

Amherst College In Memory Notice

Ken Gottlieb

Amherst, Fall, 2008


Ken Gottlieb on August 5, 2009, when his Cessna 182 Skylane crashed into a hillside in Napa, California, shortly after taking off from the local airport very early in the morning to take advantage of clear weather.  He was flying to Bakersfield and intended to go on to New Mexico to meet his wife Gale.  He was alone in the plane.  The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Kenneth Ira Gottlieb, born in Brooklyn on May 28, 1942, studied philosophy and religious studies at Amherst, then earned his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City in 1967.  The next year he married Gale Kolker, who had just graduated from Sarah Lawrence.  He completed his residency in psychiatry while studying in law at YaleLawSchool in New Haven.

After a short time in the US Public Health Service in Washington, DC and in San Francisco, he began a private practice in psychiatry in San Francisco.  Ken taught at San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute (where he had studied), the University of California, School of Medicine and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.  He served as Chief of Psychiatry at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, where he remained on staff until his death.

Ken was dedicated to his family.  He and Gail recently returned from a trip to visit their daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters in Italy.  The Gottliebs were scheduled to visit Seattle with their son and his husband, who reside in Washington, D.C.

Ken loved the arts, especially theatre and opera.  Classmate Ralph Miller recalls:

It was my first week at Amherst and I was studying in my room in Morrow, when I heard haunting sounds from across the hall.  I walked over and found Ken listening to a phonograph record. The music was totally unfamiliar to me, and Ken told me that it was a recording of La Boheme.

I began visiting Ken regularly to listen to operas, and soon he invited me to join him on a trip to New York.  His parents had season tickets to the Met and we used them one weekend.  That awakened a lifelong passion for opera, and I never attend a performance without thinking about Ken.

A life-long fan and supporter of theater and opera, Ken also pursued his athletic passions throughout his life.  He loved sailing (one reason he moved to the Bay area), tennis and squash in his youth, water skiing, snow skiing, and scuba diving.  Flying was a recently acquired passion.

Ken is survived by Gale, his wife of 41 years; their children, Michael (Ari Shapiro) Gottlieb and Tamar (Clay) McLachlan; granddaughters, Isabelle Eva Kolker and Azalia Luce McLachlan; and his sister, Karen Gottlieb Levy.

Memorial Services were held on August 11 at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.

—Neale Adams, '63