Liane Reif-Lehrer

Liane Reif-Lehrer, scientist, feminist, wife, mother, teacher, poet, and ballroom dancer, and longtime Lexington resident, died on November 6th, 2019, after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 84. Born to Gerschon Reif, a dentist, and Klara (Chaja Lea) Gottfried Reif, she lived along with her older brother Frederich (1927-2019) in Vienna, Austria until 1939. She fled the Nazis with her mother and brother on the ill-fated S.S. St. Louis, which was bound for Cuba with 937 Jewish refugees but forced to return to Europe, where they disembarked in France. In September 1941 they managed to emigrate, sponsored by relatives (the Klinghoffer family) in New York City. She attended Erasmus Hall High School, Barnard College (BA, 1956), and the University of California, Berkeley (PhD, Chemistry, 1960). After a year of round-the-world travel with her husband Sam, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, from 1966-1985 she was Research Scientist at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Schepens Eye Research Institute, and a faculty member (1978-1985) and Director of the Office of Academic Affairs (1981-1983) at Harvard Medical School. She then started the consulting firm Erimon Associates, specializing in grant writing, and published Writing a Successful Grant Application. In 1981 she founded the Women in Science Network to help navigate the challenges of career advancement. She is survived by her husband of 59 years Sherwin (Sam) Lehrer, and her children Damon Lehrer of Lexington, MA (with wife Aimee LeBrun and grandson Nathan Huckleberry Lebrun Lehrer), and Erica Lehrer of Montreal, QC.

A donation in Liane’s memory can be made to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund by clicking Donate at the bottom of the page. Liane will be buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery. An informal shiva to remember her will take place at Newbridge-on-the-Charles, Health Center, 7000 Gt. Meadow Rd

Poem by Liane:

Death Before Death (A Plea to Live Life Fully)


Life is done

Sometimes long before

The lid and earth descend

Upon the stilled body.



The organism

Seems to function
As it once did –

Breathes, walks, works,

Laughs at times.


But when

The leapings of the spirit

Are few,

And too small

To lift the fleshy casing,

And levitate it

To the joy of music,

Life is done.