Barrie David Bortnick

Barrie Bortnick, educator, lyricist, composer, died on May 25, 2019, in his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. Barrie is survived by his son David, daughter-in-law Susan, and three granddaughters Naomi, Eliya, and Mikala of Cabin John, Maryland and by his partner, Sharon Newman of Silver Spring.

Barrie was born in Boston on May 20, 1939, as the younger son of Rose and Philip Bortnick. Barrie attended Boston Latin School, the first public school in the country. He moved to Cambridge in the 1960’s to attend Harvard as a member of Kirkland House, earning an A.B. magna cum laude in social relations, an M.A.T. and a Ph.D., all the while playing French horn in the Harvard Band. Barrie’s dissertation in social relations explored human creativity and the development of an individual’s interest in the arts. Barrie also studied in London and was a Fulbright Scholar in Denmark.

After graduating, Barrie served as Director of Psychological Research for the Kodaly Music Center in Boston. The weather, marriage and the birth of David, brought him to Los Angeles in the 1970’s where he would dedicate his career to continuing and adult education. As Program Director for Humanities at UCLA Extension for more than two decades, Barrie brought many of the pioneers of our time, including Chuck Yeager, Viktor Frankl, Whoopie Goldberg, and the Dalai Lama, to share their insights with tens of thousands in the Los Angeles area. He was also the founding director of UCLA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

When not at work, Barrie loved to write music. His first musical, “Tivoli”, was inspired by the amusement park of the same name he used to stroll through in Copenhagen. Barrie also produced a variety of shows and songs performed in settings that focused on older adults, including the musical “Songs for the Second Half”. Additionally, he authored pieces on the role of music in the lives of older adults. Later in life, Barrie traveled back to the east coast and taught classes on the American musical at local universities, including American, George Mason, and Johns Hopkins.

Barrie was an avid swimmer, skier, and hiker. He loved the outdoors, especially Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.

Barrie died after a valiant, decade-long fight with multiple myeloma, just days after celebrating his 80th birthday with family and friends.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at Garden of Remembrance in Clarksburg, Maryland. Memorials may be made to the environmental charity of your choice.


Published in The Washington Post on May 27, 2019 (with minor revisions).