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In memoriam: Sidney Bertisch was activist, musician

Sidney Bertisch

FFRF Member Sidney L. Bertisch of Florida died April 17 after a brief illness. Sidney was born in the Bronx, N.Y., on June 26, 1941, to Max Bertisch and Kate (Lieber) Bertisch. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School, then worked for several years at resorts in the Catskills as a lighting operator for nightclub acts including Milton Berle, Gregory Hines, Eydie Gormé and Steve Lawrence, and Jackie Mason. Sidney’s Borscht Belt sense of humor originated there.

In 1967, Sidney headed to Gainesville to visit a friend and basically never left. Other than a few years living in Colorado, he lived in Gainesville the rest of his life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida, then launched a successful career as a local piano player and singer at regular gigs and private events. He also worked for the University of Florida from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.

Sidney’s hobbies included contra dancing, bicycling, acting and social activism. He participated in many demonstrations, including the 1963 March on Washington and protests against the death penalty in Florida. His compassion for all humans and for other species was unlimited. He joined FFRF in 1997.