In Memory of Prof Bernice Krafchik (May 9, 1938 - December 16, 2020)
The ISPD mourns the loss of Prof Bernice Krafchik, called by many “the Queen of Pediatric Dermatology”, given her impact on the field. During her lifetime, she lectured or visited 116 countries around the world to share her knowledge and vast experience in caring for children with skin disorders. Even in 2018, after celebrating her 80th birthday, Bernice was still educating around the world, including in Africa.
Bernice was educated in South Africa and England, but eventually settled in Toronto in the 1960s with her Canadian husband, Stan AvRuskin. No doubt her father, a dermatologist in South Africa, influenced her career choice, but her focus on pediatric dermatology influenced us all. In addition to her young patients, Bernice’s biggest priority was her family. She treasured her four children and eight grandchildren - and missed terribly her husband after he passed away in 2006.
Bernice was an early member of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology and a leader at the University of Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children, and several other Toronto hospitals. She retired from providing clinical care in 2010. She published almost 100 papers, as well as almost 50 books and book chapters. She received more than a dozen honors, including the Canadian Dermatology Association’s Award of Merit, the International Society of Dermatology’s Maria Duran Award, and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Alvin H. Jacobs Award for her teaching and patient care. When the International Society for Pediatric Dermatology had its 1992 World Congress of Pediatric Dermatology in Toronto, Bernice was instrumental in helping to host that outstanding meeting. She was devoted to supporting the next generation, always available for discussion and known for giving her address to young pediatric dermatologists for continued exchanges after congresses.
Although barely 5 feet tall, Bernice was a giant among us and typically the center of attention. One cannot picture her without a broad smile on her face. Full of life, she loved people and quickly made friends everywhere. She was adored by all – and, despite her stature as a leader in the field, was consistently humble. She gave of herself constantly and generously. In that spirit, her family asks that anyone who chooses to donate in Bernice’s memory do so to a cause of your choice.
She was a mensch and a true child of Africa who upheld the meaning of ubuntu. Bernice – the world of pediatric dermatology will miss you and remember you fondly forever.
From the ISPD Board of Directors
Christine Bodemer, Mark Koh, Margarita Larralde, Arti Nanda, Amy Paller, and Gail Todd