Dermatologist Bernard Stone, 81, served in labor camp

Bernard Stone, who as a young man survived Hitler and Stalin, and went on to become a prominent Bay Area dermatologist, died May 20 in San Francisco. The cause was lung cancer.

Born May 1, 1922 in Warsaw, Stone belonged to an assimilated, upper-middle class Polish family. His father was a furrier, and he had two siblings — a brother and sister.

Before Hitler invaded Warsaw, Stone was diagnosed with possible tuberculosis, and his parents sent him to a sanatorium. His older brother had already left Warsaw, because of an injury, and together, they fled to the east.

After Hitler invaded, the brothers were able to contact their parents and tried to persuade them to leave the city, but the couple refused to do so.

Soon after, the father was arrested and jailed, and was pressured to become part of the Judenrat, the Jewish police. He refused, and then after being released, he was arrested a second time for owning a firearm, which he did not have. He died in prison.

Stone's mother died in Treblinka.

The two brothers served together in a labor camp in Siberia, and then were allowed to join other Polish refugees in Kazakhstan, where Stone finished high school. His brother did not survive the war. His sister did and immigrated to Israel.

After the war, Stone returned to Warsaw.

"He had a period of time where he was really not sure what he was going to do," said his daughter Peggy Stone of Piedmont.

He knew some other survivors who were going to Germany to take advantage of the reparations program and study, so he decided to do the same. He attended medical school at Maximilian University in Munich.

There, he was joined by Beatrice Mass, whom he'd met along with the rest of her family in the labor camp. Her father, who'd formerly enjoyed a career as a successful businessman, had taken Stone under his wing in the camp.

Mass and Stone married in 1948. In 1951, they immigrated to the United States, landing first in New York, where their first daughter, Judy, was born. They then settled in Chicago, where he finished his residency. They had two more daughters, Henia and Peggy, and moved to Berkeley in 1958.

Stone became a well-respected dermatologist with practices in El Cerrito and Walnut Creek. He also taught residents at UCSF Medical Center.

He retired in 1999, and in 2003 received an honorary award from the San Francisco Dermatology Society.

The Stones moved to San Francisco in 2001. In his later years, he wrote a series of vignettes about his experiences during the war.

"He was not very observant, but he felt very much involved and very Jewish in terms of his identity," said Peggy Stone.

In addition to his love for the arts, "he was interested in politics and civil rights," said his daughter. "Free speech was very important to him because of his experiences."

In addition to his wife, Beatrice Stone, and daughter Peggy Stone, he is survived by daughter Judy Stone Kaplove of Novato, five grandchildren and one nephew. His daughter Henia died in 1991.

A public memorial will be held 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sutro Park, Point Lobos Avenue and 48th Avenue, S.F.

Donations can be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 102454, Atlanta, GA, 30368.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."