Longtime epidemiologist Gary B. Beringer, Dr. P.H., age 70, passed away suddenly Wednesday, Jan. 27 at his home in Chicago, IL. Gary, an only child, is survived by his wife, Nancy M. Abbate, who worked alongside Gary in business as well as life.
Gary had an excellent memory and continued aptitude for learning new things, but his body was breaking down, Nancy said. He was still working as the Principal/CEO of Beringer & Associates, providing scientific case preparation for attorneys and law firms, and as a corporate officer and senior researcher at Abbate Group, LTD, which assists foundations, government and nonprofit organizations.
"I think he would want to be remembered as a loving husband—someone who was supportive of me—who was ultimately a man of science and an excellent epidemiologist,” Nancy said.
Education and Training in New York
Born and raised in New York, Gary began his education in New York Public Schools, where he showed early signs of extraordinary intelligence. If Gary fell ill and was out of school for a few weeks, it only took him about two days to get ahead of where his class was currently at. His fourth-grade teacher recognized this and encouraged his parents to find a school that matched his aptitude. Gary then transitioned and graduated from Horace Mann School, a college-preparatory K-12 school in the Bronx.
It turned out Gary wasn’t just smart; he tested as a genius. Gary was also a talented pianist, who had the opportunity to attend Julliard after graduating from Horace Mann. He ultimately decided to pursue a career in science instead. He earned a Bachelor of Science in 1972 from Fordham University in psychology and biology. He then received a Master of Public Health in 1974 and a Doctor of Public Health in 1976 from Columbia University Faculty of Medicine in epidemiology with a concentration in chronic diseases.
Following graduation, Gary received training as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in psychiatry and a Post-Doctoral Trainee in mental health services research and evaluation at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1976 to 1978. Years later, Gary also earned certificates in mediation from DePaul University School of Law.
Wide-ranging Career as a Man of Science
Gary’s postgraduate career was diverse and spanned more than 40 years. He worked as a full-time tenured faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He also served the New York Health Department as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Division of Planning and Evaluation.
In 1994, he founded Beringer & Associates Litigation Support, which provided attorneys and law firms comprehensive case preparation in civil and criminal matters related to medical, health care and scientific issues. Although based in Chicago, the practice offered services to law firms across the United States.
Gary’s mentor and renowned doctor, Pascal James Imperato, MD, MPH&TM, MACP, remarked that Beringer & Associates created “a vital role for epidemiologic analysis in the judicial world.”
“He was a remarkable epidemiologist,” said Pascal. “The late Dr. Lowell E. Bellin, who preceded me as Commissioner of Health of NYC and then became Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University's School of Public Health, introduced us. Lowell thought the world of Gary and so did everyone who knew him.”
Life Outside Work: Love, Knowledge and Change
Nancy said Gary’s hunger for knowledge and intellect were driving factors in her initial attraction to him. Often the two would watch a television show together and Gary would be able to identify the names, backgrounds and acting histories of supporting characters. Nancy would often reflect, “how can you know and remember this?” Nancy and Gary married in 1995 after serving on several federal review panels together in Washington, D.C.
“He was the love of my life, a deeply caring person, and had just an amazing intellect and a quest for knowledge of all kinds,” Nancy said.
In 2003, Gary had the first of four strokes he would have over the course of 17 years. The strokes left Gary living with disabilities including limited functioning of one arm and leg. Gary continued to work and became an advocate for others living with disabilities.
Contribution to AIDS Foundation Chicago
As someone with a heart geared toward service, Gary joined AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC)’s Board of Directors in 2016 and contributed countless insights, advocacy especially around people living with disabilities, and even blog posts and op-eds supporting the organization. Gary will be deeply missed by many at AFC; his contributions will not be forgotten.
“I am grateful for Gary’s service on the AFC Board,” said John Peller, AFC President/CEO. “He brought deep experience as an epidemiologist and cared tremendously about AFC as an organization, his fellow Board members, and the people we serve. Gary was happy to step up whenever needed, from mentoring staff and Board members to joining committees. He was truly a model Board member, and we’ll miss him greatly.”
“It was an incredible honor to serve on AFC’s Board and our Policy & Advocacy Committee with Dr. Beringer over the last few years,” said Craig W. Johnson, AFC Board Chair. “We shared many mutual concerns, including race and social justice, the COVID pandemic, and mentoring the next generation of public health and HIV advocates. I will always appreciate the epidemiological lens that he contributed to our many discussions on AFC’s role in policy development and strategic planning. The entire AFC Board will truly miss Dr. Beringer’s commitment and dedication to the future of AFC, his firm yet encouraging approach to furthering our work as leaders in the fight to end HIV/AIDS, and his gentle influence on all of us as a teacher and mentor.”
Funeral services for Gary will be held at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New York, Friday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. At this time, the family is not accepting flowers, but donations can be made to AFC.