Dr. Eleanor A. Berden

Age 91, of Lansing, MI, passed away December 11, 2014. She was born November 20, 1923, in Greenburg, Delaware, daughter of the late George and Clara Berden.

Dr. Berden received her M.D. in 1953 from Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now known as Medical College of Pennsylvania). She was a pathologist for Ingham Medical Hospital and Eaton Rapids Hospital as well as the chief medical consultant for the state of Michigan’s Family Independence Agency and Social Security Disability. She was also a cellist for the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and was a lay minister for Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing. Eleanor was a compassionate person who cared deeply for people and animals – she was willing to help all those in need.

She is survived by her daughter-in-law, Kimberly Munyon-Tompkins (Calvin); grandchildren, Natalie Whitten (Doug), Nicole Munyon, Josh Munyon (Chelsey), Stacie, Mark and Matthew Tompkins, and Cameron Colson; great-grandchildren, Taylor, Sawyer, Logan and Zane; and many special friends. She was preceded in death by her son, Michael Munyon.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, at the Plymouth Congregational Church, 2001 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing. Interment will follow in Deepdale Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends 2 hours prior to the service on Tuesday at the church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Greater Lansing Food Bank or the Capital Area Humane Society. Arrangements by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.

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6 Messages to “Dr. Eleanor A. Berden

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Paula Pendergast
December 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I worked with Dr. Berden at DDS for many years. She was a wonderful lady with integrety and compassion for others. We missed her terribly after she retired. I am so glad I got to know her. I am sorry for your loss.

George Kendall
December 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I worked with Eleanor at the DDS for my last eight years there. She was a deeply Christian, deeply spiritual person, and was kind and compassionate in adjudicating claims, and in her dealings with us disability examiners. We quickly became close friends and allies, particularly when it came to fighting decisions of federal bureaucrats which frequently violated both common sense and basic justice. She liked to refer to these individuals as “dumb shits!” We fought some memorable battles, losing some and winning some. When we won, it was glorious. On one occasion, she and I met on a bitterly cold Saturday morning with Cong. Jim Dunn to try to persuade him that the disability program needed some serious reforms to make it more equitable and more humane. It was all in vain, of course, politicians being in the same category as bureaucrats when it came to her favorite epithet, but one has to try.
She was an extremely intelligent person, well-read, with many interests, especially music, which she loved deeply, and her church. Like me, she thought “outside the box,” and questioned received wisdom on many matters. She suffered many things in her life, including the tragic death by suicide of her son Michael, her only child, but soldiered through it all. She often made me think of the passage from Tennyson’s Ulysses: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
She was a wonderful friend and colleague. May her memory be eternal.

Joe & Gloria Sanger
December 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

We extend our condolences to the family of Eleanor Berden. She was a good friend for the past 47 years. She was always caring, kind, and compassionate. We will miss her.

Rebecca A. Welter
December 15, 2014 at 8:29 am

I am Eleanor’s neighbor. We moved two doors down over 11 years ago, and Eleanor was one of the first people we met. She made us feel so welcome and very soon became our favorite. She was everyone’s favorite neighbor, really and knew everyone. When the weather was warm, we would often catch each other in the yard-she loved to walk around her yard-and have many lovely conversations, catching up. What struck me most is how brilliant this woman really was. How very accomplished, too. I am sure that no matter how much her health failed her, it was like she could go right back into being a physician, as if she had never left it. The other thing was her love and compassion, for animals, as well as people. One always sensed a gentle soul and I often thought how lucky it would be to have her as a mother, or grandmother. I am sure I speak for our neighbors when I say that no one can imagine her not being there in that lovely house at the end of our street. But I would love for her family to know, that she made an impression. The kind of impression we all hope we will make. I am so very glad to have known her and look forward to seeing her again one day.

Gloria & Richard Emmons
December 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

There is only one word to describe Dr. Berden Feisty. She had strong likes and equally strong dislikes.

She drove like a mad woman. Anywhere we went it was like riding in a race car. No tickets no accidents amazingly.

. Listened to anyone who needed to be heard. She did not suffer fools lightly. She would however help anyone who needed it.

Remember her quick and biting wit. Her good advice on how to handle difficult people.

Also learned about compassion and how to meet problems with grace and dignity.

Hope heaven is to her liking or someone will be talked to.

Steve Miller
December 16, 2014 at 1:13 am

Dr. Berden worked with us for 17 yrs. at the Disability Determination Service, where she analyzed cases, performed quality assurance and professional medical public relations as our Chief Medical Officer. She was uncommonly curious with a deep desire to know the “why” of things. Not once did she ever talk down to anyone, and she always sought to find the noblest and best within clients and coworkers alike. No kinder or more compassionate woman can be found this side of Heaven. Her smile comforted and her actions, words, and counsel healed. Farewell, fair Eleanor. We miss you.


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