Maxine Berman, former state rep, dies at 71

The Detroit News

Maxine Berman, former a member of the Michigan House of Representatives and women's advocate, died Friday at age 71. 

Berman, who lived in West Bloomfield, held a seat in the Legislature for 14 years and was known as an advocate for women's health, so much so that she was inducted to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, in a class that included then-U.S. Rep.  Candice Miller. 

Maxine Berman


U.S. Rep Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, wrote on Facebook that Berman "was known for her intelligence, thoughtfulness about public policy, her candor, and her powerful advocacy for women’s health and reproductive freedom, affirmative action, and stem cell research," among other issues. 

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Abdul El-Sayed wrote on Twitter that "people like Maxine Berman remind us of what matters in leadership." 

Berman, who died of lung cancer, was a board member of the Michigan branch of Planned Parenthood, which wrote on Twitter that "she was a mentor and friend to many of us, and a strong voice for women and families in Michigan for many years. Her many contributions to our world will be missed." 

According to the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, Berman's efforts as a legislator led Michigan to become the first state in America to require the accreditation of mammogram facilities. In 1994, nearing the end of her time in the mostly-male body, she wrote a book on her experience, called "The Only Boobs in the House are Men."

Years after leaving the Legislature, Berman would join the administration of Michigan's first woman governor, Jennifer Granholm, as director of special projects. From 2009 to 2013, Berman became the fourth ever -- and first woman to serve as -- Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University, an appointment that was extended by a year. 

According to her obituary on the website of Ira Kaufman Chapel, donations in her memory can be made to Planned Parenthood at or The Jewish Hospice at

Berman's funeral is Monday at 3 p.m. at Ira Kaufman Chapel, will be officiated by Rabbi Steven Rubenstein, and will stream online. Loved ones will sit shiva at Berman's home through Wednesday evening.

She is survived by her sister sister of Barbara Disner, aunt of  Lisa Pinsky and Robert  Disner and  great-aunt of Emma, Rebecca and Jane Pinsky.