Saratoga Springs, NY – Dr Howard Michael Axelrod passed away on November 20, 2022. He was the beloved son of Saul and Muriel (Goldenberg) Axelrod.
He is survived by those who loved him most, his life partner Susan, his daughters Rebecca and Sarah, his brothers Matthew Axelrod (Tali) and Robert Axelrod, his in-laws, Anne Lowenthal, Michael Lowenthal (Linda), Laura Lowenthal Bly (Bill) and his nieces and nephews Judah, Josh, Ben, Sadie, Alexandra, and Zac, his Uncle and Aunt, Lenny and Gloria Goldenberg and his cousins Mark and Judy Arnold, Harriet Wallen, Phyllis Wald, Cheryl Andler, Elizabeth Arnold, and Michael Arnold. And by his dearest friends Ted and Kristen Neary, Ron and Robin Scharf, and his other ‘sister,’ Deborah Friedson. He was a loving son-in-law to Arthur and Terry Lowenthal and he was respected and admired by colleagues with whom he worked for decades.
Howard, known as Howie to family and friends, grew up in Beverly, MA. His family’s membership at Temple B’nai Abraham and his early education at Hillel Academy laid the groundwork for his own lifelong commitment to the practices and rituals of his Jewish faith. Trained as a teen by congregant Sam Weinberg to be a service leader, Howard spent the rest of his days sharing his spiritual devotion to Jewish ritual practice, leading services, teaching children, blowing shofar, being a High Holy Days Cantorial Soloist, and doing weddings, funerals and leading Shiva minyans. Over a lifetime of this work, thousands were touched by his stirring voice and soulful conveyance of Jewish liturgy. He will be forever remembered by anyone who ever heard him ‘daven.’
Howard knew early in his life that he wanted to be a psychologist. He received his BS from UMASS, his MS from Northeastern, and his Ph.D. from SUNY Albany. Along the way, it became clear that working with children was his passion. He had a perpetual boyish soul and children and young people related to him, confided in him and he loved them all. From a child in a cart in a supermarket to the mistreated children who crossed his thresholds, he made them feel at ease and was devoted to their soul-wellness to help them make their way in life in safety. He honored and respected them, listened to them, played with them, and lifted them up to live well lives.
Becoming Dr. Howard M. Axelrod in 1991 was a crowning achievement that started a lifetime of defining work. He started immediately as a Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice, soon joining Psychological Services in Saratoga Springs, NY. There, under the tutelage of Dr. Jerry Grodin, and in consort with his dearest friend, Dr. Casey Everett, he provided therapy to individuals, children, and families, touching the lives of people that will last for generations. He continued this work until shortly before he died, exactly as he had always intended. His early career included a brief start at the Albany VA and 5 years at the Saint Anne Institute for girls. There, he experienced difficult stories in the lives of children that dug deep into his heart and stayed with him for life. He spent 22 years with the Capital District Psychiatric Center specializing in work with children and adolescents. And 17 years traveling to the North Country twice monthly as the Consulting Psychologist for Hamilton County working with children and families, and supporting colleagues there whom he called heroes. Also, he was dedicated to the work he did for Public Safety Psychology for 20 years.
His role as the Albany Medical Center Internship Clinical Supervisor was a highlight of his career. For more than two decades, he listened to interns share with him and quietly asked questions to encourage intuition rising and commitment to training. He received countless notes from interns turned psychologists for his role in their education and training. Training, in-service, teaching, and personal mentoring were hallmarks of Howard’s career. With humor, insight, education, and intuition he shared his love for the craft and the world is a bit better for those who learned from him. Every story he was ever told by a patient or colleague about the frailty of human existence burrowed deep into his heart and he held them there.
But by far, the most important role of his life was husband to Sue and dad to Rebecca and Sarah. Howie and Sue met in 1982, married in 1987, and with the many bumps and bruises of a lifetime together, loved each other until the end. Being dad to Rebecca and Sarah was the thing that he cherished most. Howard suffered difficulties at the end of his life but his legacy of love for his family, for children, and for the mental wellness of others will never be forgotten by any who knew him.
For those wishing to honor him, you are welcome to make a gift to a fund established to honor Howard’s life and work helping children, families, and providers with mental health. The Dr. Howard M. Axelrod Family Fund at the Community Foundation for the Capital Region, online at https://www.cfgcr.org/ or by mailing a check to: Community Foundation for the Capital Region, 2 Tower Place, Albany, NY 12203 with a memo: For the Dr. Howard M. Axelrod Fund.