Last updated June 2013.
By Richard Gross
On Friday, April 19,2013, my mentor, teacher, tennis partner, and friend of over 50 years, Herman Belmont, M.D., died at the age of 94. It is because of him that I became a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. He taught me in my Junior year of Medical School and he made the field seem so exciting that it was what I wanted, rather than be the pediatrician I had been planning to be. Herman displayed an understanding, a sensitivity and a compassion for children and for all humanity that was amazing. He was an inspiration to many, having trained over 100 child psychiatrists at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital (now a part of Drexel University College of Medicine) where he was the Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for over 30 years. Herman made an impact on everyone he met for his creativity, far-sightedness, administrative skills, teaching skills, and his unique leadership. He was a very unassuming man who belied his many achievements.
Herman graduated in 1943 from The University of Pennsylvania Medical School, interned at HUP and did his residency (after a stint in the Army in Panama and Pearl Harbor) in Psychiatry at Pennsylvania Hospital, becoming Board Certified in 1948. He was not accepted at The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic by Jonathan Rose because he was in psychoanalysis at the time; however, sometime later Herman was asked to teach by (and for) Jonathan Rose. Herman became a child psychiatrist through being a Child Analyst. He took and passed the very first Boards given in Child Psychiatry in 1960. HIS mentor was the eminent Gerald Pearson; and among his teachers were: Berta Bornstein, Margaret Mahler, Marianna Kris, and Jenny Waelder Hall. Herman was an early member of AACAP when membership was by invitation only. He was President of The Philadelphia Association of Psychoanalysis from 1964-1966 and was also President of The Philadelphia Regional Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
My wife, Carol, and my personal friendship with Herman and his beautiful and wonderful wife, Lorraine (who died five years before Herman) go back to our first party when I was an intern and, to our amazement, the two of them came to our party held in our tiny, one bedroom apartment. My Professor came to our party... would you believe!
Carol and I had the good fortune to have a summer home on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and "Lo and Behold!" so did the Belmonts, where we became good friends. Herman loved to swim, sail and race his sail boat, The Triumph, and play tennis. We sailed and played tennis together and visited each other's homes frequently. The Belmonts were always warm and gracious; truly very special role models. "Camp Belmont" where they entertained their nine visiting grandchildren (without their parents) was a sight to behold.
Herman and Lorraine were married for over 60 years; they leave 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Herm never quite got over the death of Lorraine and he succumbed to the slow dementia of Alzheimer's which began shortly after Lorraine died.
Dr. Herman Belmont will be sorely missed and forever remembered by those who knew him, learned at his feet and were impacted by his life.