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February 2009 Issue

College of Medicine alumnus Herbert Berner, MD, and his wife, Marlene, endowed $50,000 to start a scholarship that will benefit married students
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A Gift of Love: New Scholarship Helps Married Medical Students

By Angela Koenig
Published February 2009

It’s the classic fairy tale love story: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy goes to medical school at the University of Cincinnati and builds girl a castle ... in Indiana.

OK, so there’s a little deviation from the classics—but the romance, medical school and castle parts are all true.

Subsequently, and as a testament to the humble beginnings of a 53-year marriage, Herbert Berner, MD, a 1961 UC alumnus, and his wife, Marlene, have established a $50,000 endowment to help other married couples defray the cost of medical school.

“We hope that the recipients of this scholarship will someday be able to establish their own endowed scholarship to help further the education of other medical students in need,” says Herbert, who retired in 1999 after 33 years in the private practice of obstetrics and gynecology.

“We had $15 a week for groceries,” Marlene recalls of starting out their lives together in 1956 while Herbert was an undergraduate student at UC.

His entry into medical school was assisted by a $1,000 annual scholarship from the College of Medicine, he says, but times were still tough and the budget slim.

“My wife was part of our odyssey throughout med school, the 10 years of schooling, internship and residency—in the days when the pay was little or nothing,” says Herbert. “Without parental help we survived by working several jobs, including maintenance work and as a carpenter building homes during the summer months. We graduated from medical school with very little money and two children, but no debt.”

Marlene, who worked as a secretary until their children were born, says the hardest part of getting through those early years was being separated by the demands of school and work.

Her advice to other couples now: “Be patient and look ahead. You are hoping times will be much better later on, which they have for us.”

“They are so sweet together and so obviously still in love,” says Dawn Perrin, director of development for educational initiatives at the College of Medicine.

The endowment, Perrin says, is geared to provide around $2,500 a year to one recipient.

Oh, and for those wondering about the castle, it stands in Indiana where they reside. The couple built the castle-like structure in the late 1970s—complete with turrets.

To learn more about giving opportunities at UC, visit

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