Ray Lederman, mental health advocate, dies

Ray LedermanRaymond Karl Lederman, D.O., a doctor, psychiatrist and passionate advocate for child and adolescent mental health, died June 15, 2015 after what his family describes as “a long journey” with cancer. He was 65.

Born in Detroit, he graduated from the University of Michigan, then attended medical school at Michigan State University. He practiced family medicine in California before meeting his wife, Amy Hirshberg, and moving to Tucson in 1982 to complete a residency in psychiatry at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Lederman served as medical director for Desert Hills Hospital and the Providence Corporation. As the associate medical director of the Arizona Department of Health, he reformed the behavioral health system for children and adolescents across Arizona. He served as associate medical director for the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona for six years before retiring in 2011, but continued as a psychiatric consultant for the United States Department of Justice, responsible for reviewing, monitoring and auditing inpatient and outpatient facilities nationwide.

He was an active member of Tucson’s Jewish community and gave of his time to the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, Tucson Hebrew Academy, Congregation Or Chadash and other community organizations.

In January 2013, he published an article, “Cancer and the hazards of being male” in the Arizona Jewish Post, exploring the idea of forming a men’s cancer support group.

“Ray possessed a sweetness that shone through his smile, his kind eyes, and the gentleness of his voice,” Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and a longtime friend, told the AJP. “This quality was paired with deeply-rooted values and compassion for our community and our world, which no doubt drove him in his professional and community work. His complete devotion to his family could only be matched by their adoration for him. Amy and Ray, Josh and Lauren, have a unique place in our Jewish community, and so they have been and will continue to be covered with an umbrella of love and caring as they journey through the grief of this great loss.”

At the funeral held Thursday, June 18, at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, Dr. Lederman’s son, Joshua, who delivered one of the eulogies, remarked that watching the way his mother cared for his father over the last three and a half years “has been the holiest experience of my life.”

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim of Congregation Or Chadash conducted the service at the Tucson J, which was attended by more than 400 people. Rabbi Elie Spitz of California, who is a family friend, and Cantor Janece Cohon of Or Chadash officiated at the graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery.

Survivors include Dr. Lederman’s wife of 32 years, Amy Hirshberg Lederman; children, Joshua Lederman of Washington, D.C., and Lauren Lederman of Tucson; siblings, Martin (Sheila) Lederman and Judy (Sheldon) Gold of West Bloomfield, Mich., and Sema (L. Wayne McCracken) Lederman of Chapel Hill., N.C.

Memorial donations may be made to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, 3003 S. Country Club Road, Tucson, AZ 85713; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 1585 E. River Road, Tucson, AZ 85718 or the American Cancer Society, 1636 N. Swan Road, Tucson, AZ 85712.