Periodically, we will publish bios of our residents written by our team of resident writers. Below is the first written to introduce Barbara and Al Balaban who joined the Plymouth Harbor community in December 2012.
By Lee Yousri
Enter Al: psychiatrist with a sense of humor. Enter Barbara: life-long activist. What a combo! How fortunate that their parents lived five blocks apart, were friends, and promoted their marriage.
But let us begin with some background. Al has lived in all of New York’s boroughs. During his second year of college at NYU, he signed up with the ASTP (no longer active), a service which recruited candidates for Army officer training. Alas, during his fourth year he was drafted and served in the infantry as a combat “medic.” In this position he did not bear arms and therein lays many a frightening tale, such as crossing the Rhine under heavy fire and living through the Battle of the Bulge.
He returned after the war to finish college (graduating Phi Beta Kappa); to attend medical school, and to meet and marry his sweetheart. With this accomplished, as well as years of psychiatric and psychoanalytic training, he was in private practice from 1954 to 1996. He also volunteered at many local institutions as psychiatric consultant, and at age 80 he became a “Distinguished Life Fellow” of the American Psychiatric Association.
Even with this agenda he found time to indulge his avocations of theatre and cooking. To wit: he was an active member of the Great Neck Community Theatre and he was a self-taught serious cook, even giving cooking lessons.
Now, Barbara: She has had an interest in politics dating back to Adlai Stevenson days and has been an activist “par excellence” for many causes. For instance: during the Vietnam war she helped organize a draft information and counseling service to advise individuals of their legal rights.
Another biggie: cancer research. Upon learning that insufficient time and resources were spent on this, she studied the issue and helped organize a group, “The National Breast Cancer Coalition,” that repeatedly called on senators and congressmen in Washington to foster interest and work towards improvement. In effect, Barbara became a dedicated lobbyist for her cause.
From 1989 to 1996, she was “Director, N.Y. Statewide Breast Cancer Hot Line.” And she is the author of “The Breast Cancer Handbook-Taking Control After You’ve Found a Lump.”
She, too, has found time for hobbies: bridge—an intermediate player (please call for a social game), lap swimming, bird watching, travel, sunfish sailing.
We also salute Barbara and Al’s joint venture: three children and five grandchildren.
Welcome to Plymouth Harbor!