[The following obituary is from Cremation and Funeral Alternatives as posted on Legacy.Com. You can find it there as well as a guest book to sign.]
Leon Levin, M.D.: A Life of Meaning May 22,1930-October 18, 2014
For Dr. Leon Levin, 84, finding the meaning in life, relationships, people, literature and film was synonymous with breathing. How could he do otherwise? A psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a scholar, a community servant, a film lover, a friend and a quintessential family man – it was the lens through which he looked. He had a natural sensitivity for depth, emotion, conflict, fear, hope, pain and was always curious and empathic. The close relationships with his family, Psychoanalysis and film served as his foundation. Many have echoed that Leon’s belief in them, inspired them to be their best selves. He touched generations in the most understated and gentle manner.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Leon graduated from Washington High School in 1948. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison for his undergraduate degree (1953) and Medical School (1956). He completed his internship in 1957 at Maimonides. Choosing Psychiatry for his life’s work, Leon did his residency at the Menninger Clinic, graduating in 1960. He then served from 1960-62 as a Captain in the United States Air Force.
From childhood, Leon loved movies – the art form he came to cherish for a lifetime. It was during his psychiatry residency at Menninger that he became excited about a film’s potential for discussion. He joined other residents in what would be his first film group. As he studied psychiatry, it was not lost on him that films were close to dreams as a wellspring into the unconscious and he integrated these 2 fields of passion over the next 5 decades
Leon entered Psychoanalytic Training at the Baltimore Washington Institute for Psychoanalysis, graduating in 1974. Upon graduation, he joined the Baltimore Washington Society for Psychoanalysis and went on to hold over 23 positions in leadership, advocacy and a multitude of committee projects. He was a revered psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, supervisor and teacher, practicing in Baltimore, MD for over 40 years. He was on the faculty at the University of Maryland, Department of Psychiatry and the Walter P. Carter Center and at Johns Hopkins University where he also practiced in their counseling center. Years ago, Leon was awarded the Distinguished Lifetime Service Award from the American Psychiatric Association. He would joke, “I think they give that to people that are about to die.”
From the 1980s, Leon joined colleagues as they began to build bridges between psychoanalysis and the community by way of showing and discussing movies. He believed that “films provide a common language.” And he was fluent. He began a formal series at The Baltimore Museum of Art, called, “Close-Ups: Psychoanalysts Look at Film.” Over the next 25+ years, over 100 films were shown to a diverse and loyal audience each Spring. Leon invited the audience to let the films “wash over them.” A frequent and favorite discussant himself, he was always most interested in what those around him had to say, what others experienced and felt.
But to know Leon Levin, was to know his unquenchable appetite for a good film with his best friend and wife of 45 years, Marianne, by his side and his dedicated film group of friends and colleagues that met in their home. He never tired of discussing the psychoanalytic depth and meaning of the plot, the characters and what the director was expressing about him/herself. Leon was known to remark that he learned most about himself when he came to realize what he had NOT seen in a film and he felt that discussing films with others allowed for a kind of opening up that brought people closer together. It was his gentle, but solid focus, attunement, perception, attention – on his patients, family, colleagues, students and film that was his signature.
The curtain has come down on this movie of Leon’s full and rich life, but the credits will continue to be in lights as his series continues, renamed, “The Leon Levin Psychoanalytic Film Series.”
Health declining, Leon died peacefully with his family by his side on 10/18/14. Leon is survived by his loving wife, Marianne Risser, their two children, Adam Joseph Levin of Appleton, WI and David Asher Levin of Eugene, Oregon and three children, Rama Levin of Montpellier, France, Aaron Samuel Levin of Paris, France and Daniel Jay Levin of London, England from a previous marriage to Nidra Poller. He was the proud grandfather of eleven grandchildren. He also leaves behind, his psychoanalytic family at the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and the broader community that he touched so deeply. His was a life of deep meaning. Plans for a Celebration of his life are underway. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Doctors Without Borders, The Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, or the charity of your choice.