Dr. Barbara G. Zirkin, a former assistant dean for distance learning at Stevenson University and former dean for academic administration at Baltimore Hebrew University, died on June 20. She was 75.
A Pikesville resident and Beth El congregant, Dr. Zirkin was the mother of Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin (D-11th).
A native of Columbia, S.C., Dr. Zirkin grew up in White Plains, N.Y., and attended Harpur College (now known as the State University of New York at Binghamton) and Hunter College for her bachelor’s degree. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Rochester.
She and her husband of 54 years, Dr. Barry Ronald Zirkin, met in her freshman year of college and eventually resettled in Baltimore.
Dr. Zirkin continued her studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her master’s degree and doctorate in education.
Dr. Zirkin worked in academia for more than four decades. Besides BHU and Stevenson, she taught at the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Since 2008, she operated Zirkin Academic Consulting, which helped create online programming to assist educational institutions.
Dr. Zirkin also served as a board member of Civic Works, a nonprofit that works to strengthen Baltimore’s communities through education, community service and skills development.
Del. Dana Stein (D–11th), Civic Works’ founder and executive director, first met Dr. Zirkin in the early 1990s while both were serving on the board of the recycling center program at the Milford Mill Metro SubwayLink station.
“I met her before I even got involved with politics or met Bobby,” Stein said. “She was always happy and eager to take on any project. She was a very dedicated volunteer.”
As a Civic Works board member, Dr. Zirkin was “very supportive of our mission, especially when it involved what we do in education. She did a lot to help us make connections, especially in the higher education community. She was someone who had a lot of creative ideas and was very good at making connections. She was an active board member and really made a difference.
“Just a great person who was involved in a lot of different groups and had an impact,” he said. “Also, she was a very nice, pleasant person to be around. It’s a loss. She’ll be missed.”
In her spare time, Dr. Zirkin was an avid reader of the New York Times and the books on its best-seller lists. She also traveled extensively and sang with the Beth El Choir. In particular, she enjoyed spending time with her family and attending services at Beth El.
Dr. Zirkin is survived by her husband; her sons, Dr. Bill Zirkin and Sen. Zirkin; her daughters-in-law, Dr. Anat Hampel Zirkin and Tina Logan Zirkin; her brother, Jim Gottlieb, and her sister-in-law, Roberta Gottlieb; and her grandchildren, Talia, Jonah, Sophie and Emma Zirkin.
Services will be held on Sunday, June 23, at noon at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, at Mount Wilson Lane. Interment will be at Beth El Memorial Park in Randallstown.
Contributions in Dr. Zirkin’s memory may be sent to Beth El Congregation Choir, 8101 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md., 21208.
Shiva will be observed at 6820 Chippewa Drive on Sunday following interment until 4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m., and on Monday from 5-9 p.m.