Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:
events spearheaded by his sister, estab-
lished to help offset costly medical care
not covered by his insurance.
"The support — emotionally, spiritual-
ly, physically and financially — has been
producing Full Body Wag, a sketch come-
overwhelming from the extended Detroit
dy show that aired on PBS Television.
community and from everywhere Mark
'After the accident, he did motiva-
had friends or family," Leibovitz said.
tional speaking at elementary schools
"And even those who didn't know Mark
on Disability Awareness Day,
discussing his accident and
Mark and our family."
how his life had changed,"
Friends donated con-
said his sister, Suzanne
struction materials and
Leibovitz of Birmingham.
labor to modify Mr.
That Mr. Herman remained
Herman's mother's West
in front of audiences was hard-
Bloomfield home to
ly surprising to friends. "One
make it wheelchair and
of his greatest assets and
handicap accessible for
strengths was always to bright-
en people's lives — even those
With nursing care, he
he only knew for a minute,"
was later able to move
said Todd Stoneman, who
into his own home in
moved from California to
Chicago to be near his child-
Mark H erman
hood friend following the acci-
occupational and water
therapy, he became able to move his
"What defined Mark was that he
upper arms; his breathing and circulation
always looked for the positive in every-
improved and he was able to feel sensa-
tion to his elbow and almost to his waist.
After months spent in hospitals and
"He was so brave," Stoneman said. "The
rehabilitation centers following the injury, courage it took for him to wake up to his
Mr. Herman returned to Michigan to a
life each day cannot even be imagined."
rally of continuous support from family
It was that courage that guided Mr.
and friends, including two fund-raising
Herman to board an airplane and travel
A Story Of Courage
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
yen after suffering a devastat-
ing spinal cord injury, Mark
Herman continued to make
certain he stayed out in front.
A comedian, writer, actor and enter-
tainer, Mr. Herman turned his career
focus into inspirational speaking after a
March 2001 accident in a fitness center
that paralyzed him from the shoulders
down. He died July 4, 2003, at age 28.
"Mark spent the first part of his pro-
fessional career as a comedian, touching
people's funny bones, making them
laugh and feel good," said David
Techner, funeral director at Ira
Kaufman Chapel. "And he spent the
last two years of his life — reaching out
— and touching people's hearts.
"His handicap became his strength."
At the time of his injury, Mr. Herman,
a graduate of North Farmington Hi gh
School and Eastern Michigan University,
had been living in Chicago. There, he
had been writing comedy, taking courses
at the Second City School for
Improvisation, acting and writing and co-
Advocate For Kids
ing their cottage home on Harbert
Beach, near New Buffalo, Mich., an easy
Special to the Jewish News
drive from Chicago. But tragedy struck
there on July 4, 2003 — Mr. Weiss, 59,
n attorney devoted to the
died of a heart attack while swimming in
needs of the poor and power-
Lake Michigan. Although
less, Mark Weiss
six other swimmers in the
had a special inter-
area drowned that day due
est in the welfare of children.
to rip currents, the lake
He started in public service
condition was not a factor
in Detroit, moved into a pri-
in Mr. Weiss' death, said
vate law practice and in his
last position in Chicago, he
graduate of Mumford
represented neglected and
School and Olivet
abused children in lawsuits
College, the Detroit native
brought by the Office of the
earned his law degree at
Public Guardian in Cook
Formerly a partner in the
Detroit law firm of Mogill,
Posner, Cohen & Weiss, he
and his wife, Joan Lovell,
Mark We iss
moved to Chicago more than
Legal Aid Services. Then
a year ago. But the move didn't
indigent clients charged
prevent him from keeping in touch with
Legal Aid and
everyone in Detroit, said brother David
Weiss. And Mark called their parents
daily --- like a good eldest son should do.
The transplanted couple enjoyed visit-
ESTHER ALLWEISS TSCHIRHART
law with Mr. Weiss in 1974. A year later,
they teamed up with attorneys Ken
Mogill, Neal Bush and Sheldon Halpern
in a new law firm called Halpern, Mogill,
Bush, Posner & Weiss. Mr. Weiss, who
later specialized in personal injury cases,
was a former president of the Michigan
Trial Lawyers Association.
Among the young attorneys that Mr.
Weiss mentored was Margie Cohen, now
a partner in his former firm. Speaking at
his funeral service, officiated by
Birmingham Temple Rabbi Adam
Chalom, Cohen said Mr. Weiss provided
each client with vigorous representation
in the courtroom and a warm and caring
manner behind the scenes."
With his concern for children, he once
served as a magistrate in the Juvenile
Division of the Wayne County Court
His favorite child, always, was daughter
Polly Tooley Weiss, a teacher in
"He packed my lunch every day for 12
years," Polly said, recallin:Er the "Mark
Weiss Special" was slices of Velveeta
cheese on white bread with mayo.
At bedtime, her fun-loving dad "creat-
ed sagas with tides like 'The Sewer
Demons,' and other tales of crime-fight-
ing kids." His story-telling skill was
to Ecuador last month.
There, he received a nerve transplant
"that was intended to help gain substan-
tial function and feeling back through his
body," Leibovitz said.
Although the surgery appeared to be
successful and some progress was noted,
he died two weeks later of cardiac arrest,
five days after his 28th birthday.
A fund has been established in Mr.
Herman's memory, to assist children with
spinal cord injuries and other disabilities.
"Mark was the most warm, loving, self-
less, unaffected and giving person I know,
with the biggest heart," Leibovitz said of
her brother. "He would have done
absolutely anything for anyone who
needed him no matter whether you were
his family or someone he just met."
Mr. Herman is survived by his mother,
Alice Herman; brother, Steven Herman;
sister and brother-in-law, Suzanne and
Andrew Leibovitz of Birmingham; niece,
Ellie Leibovitz; uncle and aunt, Bernie
and Miriam Gasee. He was the beloved
son of the late Bert S. Herman.
Interment was at Clover Hill Park
Cemetery. Contributions may be made
to the Mark Herman memorial fund
to help handicapped children at
Variety, the Children's Charity, 30161
Southfield, Suite 301, Southfield, MI
48076. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman
honed as a camp counselor, Polly said.
Mr. Weiss married fellow attorney Joan
Lovell about five years ago. Knowing how
he loved Tigers' announcer Ernie
Harwell, hot dogs and baseball, Joan
once thrilled her husband with a trip to
Tiger Fantasy Camp in Florida.
Cohen admired Mr. Weiss' ability to
"fill in the New York Times Sunday cross-
word puzzle — in ink." His sartorial
style, however, amused her. Partial to
bowties, "his clothes were elegant but
often combined colors and patterns in
unusual ways," she said.
"Mark was abundant in his embrace of
life," said his sister, Susan Weiss. "He
always insisted on parting company with
Mr. Weiss is survived by his wife, Joan
Lovell; daughter and son-in-law, Polly
Tooley Weiss and Cory McCall of
California; parents, Fran and Harold
Weiss of Bloomfield Hills; sisters, Susan
Weiss of Ontario, Joan Weiss of
Washington; brothers and sisters-in-law,
David Weiss and Penny Hergenroeder of
Bloomfield Hills, Sam and Jo Weiss of
Contributions may be made to a
children's charity of one's choice.
Arrangements by Ira Kaufman