Obituary of Bernice AvRuskin (Krafchik)
Bernice AvRuskin (Krafchik)
May 9, 1938-Dec 16, 2020
If you met Dr. Bernice AvRuskin/Krafchik (or "Dr. K." to many), you would remember her.
Her five-foot-zero stature was an inverse reflection of the size of her personality.
Bernice was a force and she lived a truly exceptional life. She was known as The Queen of Pediatric Dermatology, a title that perfectly describes the impact she had on her profession. In a remarkable career spanning over 50 years, she was a world-renowned doctor to thousands, a teacher, a lecturer, a writer, and a mentor. It's not an exaggeration to say that any child with a challenging dermatological issue in Toronto from 1970 until 2010 would eventually end up in her clinic, where she would dispense advice, care, cure, and kindness in equal measure. Her contributions to her field won her accolades and awards all over the globe. She remained humble, devoted to her patients, and deeply principled. Every patient was personally important to her and she adored them. She knew everything about them, their families, and their favourite restaurants. Many of her colleagues and students became life-long friends, making up an eclectic extended family with whom she loved traveling, dining, and passionately disagreeing about whatever topic was up for discussion.
She loved being surrounded by people and our family home was always brimming with activity and friends. On any given weekend she held court at the round kitchen table, in one hand a cup of hot water, the other holding the phone discussing her favourite book with someone halfway across the world. All the while challenging visiting friends, young and old, debating their fundamental beliefs both for the intellectual pleasure of the discussion and for connection. Mid-stream, she would issue cryptic instructions such as, "Go and get me the whatchamacallit. It's in that... thing, right next to that other thing.” She was an outstanding cook, known for her Babootie, chocolate cheesecake and love of entertaining.
Her curiosity was boundless, and her love of travel took her all over the world -- at last count 116 countries. And it was her love of humanity that drove this wanderlust.
Everywhere she travelled, she would engage with strangers in real conversations, sometimes at great peril, such as when she peppered taxi drivers in Myanmar with questions about what they really thought of the government. "You can be honest with me. I won't tell anyone," she would whisper -- and she meant it. The result was that she made a real connection with people around the world, many of whom became friends for life.
There was nothing more important to her than her family. She was married to Stan AvRuskin for 40 years until his death and she was fiercely loyal to and proud of her four children Hayley (Phil), Adam (Anne), Vanessa (James) and Gillian (Giorgos) and adored her eight grandchildren. She was happiest when she was surrounded by her family. She was smart, funny, generous, and full of love. It is hard to imagine a world without her.
Bernice gave to any charity that asked. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a cause of your choice. Family and friends are invited to share stories at a virtual Shiva on Sunday December 20th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. For more information send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org