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Gerald Schamess, MSS (1934 - 2019)

Posted July 22, 2019
In honor of Gerald Schamess, MSS (1934 - June 28, 2019).

By now you may have seen the President's message regarding the death of Professor Schamess. I wanted to send you the notice that SSW will send to our alumni and field partners. We will also prepare a memorial article about his legacy and contributions in our upcoming issue of InDepth. I am so grateful for the service and love that Gerry gave to this school. If you have any questions, please let me know.
~ Marianne RM Yoshioka, PhD, MSW
Dean and Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor
Smith College School for Social Work


It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Professor Emeritus Gerald Schamess on June 28, 2019.

Schamess graduated from the Columbia School of Social Work with a Master’s degree and went on to work for the Jewish Board of Guardians. On August 1, 1969, he joined the faculty of the Smith College School for Social Work as an Assistant Professor. He was renowned for his commitment to teaching and dedication to students. He served as the editor of the Smith College Studies in Social Work where he facilitated the growth of the journal and its contributions to clinical practice. He retired from the School for Social Work as a full Professor in 2002.

“Gerry was a mensch who integrated his deep knowledge of psychodynamic theory with a thirst for social justice. He was wise, funny and mentored many of our faculty and students. He cared deeply about our School and had a strong investment in its being the best clinical training program in the land,” said Professor Joshua Miller, Ph.D.

The flag at College Hall on the Smith College campus will be lowered to half-mast on Monday July 1, in Schamess’ memory. His funeral will be at Congregation B'nai Israel on Tuesday, July 2 at 3:00 PM. Burial Will immediately follow at Congregation B'nai Israel Cemetery. For further directions or instruction, please visit AscherZimmerman.com Contributions in his name can be made to The Cutchins Center for Children and Families, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, or a charity of your choice.

Schamess’ official obituary can be found here: Obituary on Legacy.com »

From Office of the President
The President's Office has been notified that Gerald “Gerry” Schamess, Professor Emeritus in the Smith College School of Social Work, passed away on Friday, June 28. Professor Schamess served on the faculty of the School of Social Work from 1969 until his retirement in 2002. Professor Schamess received an Honorary Alumnus award from Smith's School of Social Work in 2005.

Funeral services will be held at Congregation B'nai Israel, 253 Prospect Street in Northampton, on Tuesday, July 2 at 3:00 PM. His burial will immediately follow at Congregation B'nai Israel Cemetery. For further directions or instruction, please visit AscherZimmerman.com.

Contributions in his name can be made to The Cutchins Center for Children and Families, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, or a charity of your choice.

The flag at College Hall will be lowered to half staff in Professor Schamess' memory on Tuesday, July 2.
~ Kathleen McCartney, President, Smith College
~ Kim Jurado, Administrative Assistant to the President

I just learned of this enormous loss to all of us, particularly, the world of clinical social work. Gerry was the role model to which so many of us aspired.
~ Bill Meyer

Thanks so much, Bill. A loss, leaving many memories behind.
~ Claire Rosenberg

Gerry was a wonderful teacher and mentor. This is a huge loss for social work.
~ Faye Mishna, Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, Margaret & Wallace McCain Chair in Child & Family, University of Toronto

Thanks for sending this news, Bill. Gerry was an unusually warm and wise mensch. He had great clinical talent that he cultivated and refined over his long career. I recall the way he could tell a vivid story that would weave in wisdom along with his wry humor. Those stories will stay with me. In fact, I recently shared a Gerry story with someone who was quite nervous about an upcoming event and it gave him comfort. I will miss him terribly. I wish comfort to all those who are sharing this great loss.
~ Michelle Kwintner

Gerry was an extraordinary human being, teacher, colleague, and mentor. I was fortunate to be Gerry’s student during the brief time that he taught at Simmons. A group of us would join him for drinks after class while he waited for the Peter Pan bus to take him back to Northampton. Knowing Gerry was a nothing short of a generative experience. Gerry was brilliant and unassuming. He exemplified who we aspired to become as people and as clinical social workers. Gerry and I had a lot in common. We both were from the Bronx, lost our fathers as teenagers, cared for our families as we attended college, and worked with street gangs. I imagine that I am not alone in feeling personally touched by Gerry. Rather than withering away, we as clinical social workers, especially PSYCHOANALYTIC clinical social workers, need to work even harder to ensure that Gerry’s legacy, and the proud tradition to which we belong, grow and thrive.
~ Alan J. Levy

I was deeply saddened to hear of Gerry's death. My association with him while teaching at Smith, and my limited contacts over the intervening years endeared him to me. Gerry embodied the best in our field, bringing to his clients, his students, his readers and his colleagues warmth, knowledge, wit, devotion to our field and more. A great loss to his family and all who, like myself, were fortunate enough to cross paths with him. Thanks Bill for letting us know.
~ Warmly, Joyce Edward

Gerry was one of my most influential teachers and mentors. He always had time for a chat. He lives on in the lives so many people he touched.
~ Bill Etnyre