Dr. Miguel Leibovich- Beloved father, grandfather, partner, uncle and friend, died at his home in Cambridge, Mass. on Thursday morning, February 9th. He was 83 and had struggled with congestive heart failure for many years. He was a buoyant man with a big and tired heart that finally ran out of fuel.
Miguel adored his family and friends. He had bright blue eyes and an awesome smile and laugh. He loved so many things and places – especially his childhood home of Concordia, Argentina; his adult home in Cambridge and weekend farmhouse in Hiram, Maine, where his family and friends spent so many magical times. He loved bright and mismatched clothing, watercolors, martini’s, vodka gimlets, antique farm implements, scratchy jazz records, tango, big New Years Eve dance parties and Turner Home Classics.
He came to America from Argentina in 1958, arriving in New York by ocean liner. He caught a Greyhound Bus to Memphis, where he took his first job as a young psychiatrist in a state hospital in Bolivar, Tennessee. His English was not great nor was his ability to communicate with the 500 black psychiatric patients in the segregated ward his bosses assigned him to. True to his spirit, Miguel forged a fast connection; he realized that many of his patients were active in their churches, so he organized sing-a-longs, gathering everyone to perform hymns and spirituals.
Miguel purchased a Buick convertible and drove to Boston in 1959, where he met his future wife, Joan Brownstein (Leibovich) while training at Mass. General Hospital. They settled in Newton, MA, raised three kids and took the family to Argentina every year and Maine on many weekends.
Dr. Leibovich worked in private practice in Cambridge for 50-plus years. Over his long career, he also held faculty appointments at Harvard, Tufts and Boston University Medical Schools. Above all, his pride and joy were his two surviving children, Mark and Lori Leibovich, and his five grandchildren (Penelope, Eliza and Frances Leibovich of Washington, DC; Carlos and Clara Kanter of Brooklyn, NY); son in-law (Larry Kanter of Brooklyn) daughter in-law (Meridith Kolbrener of Washington, DC) two nieces (Selma Leibovich de Moviglia and Lyda Leibovich de Perez, of Argentina) and beloved partner of 28 years, (Betty Grossman of Cambridge, Mass). Miguel missed his late son, Phil every day – Phil’s death, at 23, five years after he suffered grave injuries in a car accident, was the heartache of Miguel’s life.
Betty was with Miguel when he died. Lori and Mark had a nice last visit with him Wednesday night, shortly before he died in his bed with a “noreaster” swirling outside. Miguel loved a good blizzard.
Per his wishes, Miguel will be buried next to Phil in Waltham, Mass. A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, February 14th at 3:30 at Loeb House at Harvard (17 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA). Shiva will be observed at Dr. Leibovich’s late residence in Cambridge the night of the 13th from 6 to 8 p.m. and on the 15th from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Endowment for the Advancement of Psychotherapy at Mass General Hospital; the Natural Resources Defense Council; and the American Civil Liberties Union –