Frederick Berlinger

Published 12:41 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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Dr. Federick George Berlinger passed away on May 8, 2024. He was born in New York City, NY, on December 21, 1936.

He attended Horace Mann School for Boys, entered Cornell University at the age of 16 and went on to attend Chicago Medical School. Additional medical training at Montefiore Hospital in Bronx, NY, Columbia University, Bellevue Hospital NYC, and University of Michigan. 

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His life’s dream was to become a physician and teacher. 

Fred was a Major in the US Army Medical Corps from 1968 – 1970, being drafted at the age of 31 upon completing 9 years of medical training. 

He served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 at the 93rd Evac Hospital in Long Binh. He was fully immersed in multiple medical services and was indefatigable. During his tour, he worked as an internist and endocrinologist. He said tropical medicine was nothing like medicine in a University setting with modern technology and equipment. It was skill, knowledge, intuition, and using every piece of clinical judgment that saved the lives of soldiers he often referred to as “the kids.” He described the soldiers in their blue, government-issued pajamas burning up with fever as looking like brave little boys with no complaints and yet sicker than any patient he treated back in the States. They stole his heart then and now; he never forgot them. 

Much to his surprise, he also became a snake bite expert…traveling extensively throughout Vietnam to teach physicians and troops about snakebite treatment and management.

He traveled weekly to care for children at multiple orphanages. Additionally, he took charge of the Medical Civil Action Program that provided healthcare in many Vietnamese villages. He personally provided care for men, women, and children. 

For his service, Major Berlinger received the Bronze Star, Vietnam Campaign, Vietnam Service, National Defense Service medals, and two Overseas Bars. 

From 1970 – 2000, Dr. Berlinger resided in the Chicago area and fulfilled his dream as a Director of Medicine, Academic Professor, and then in private practice. 

He retired to the Foothills of NC in 2001 with his family, his beloved dogs, horses, a Nikon camera for his amazing photography, and an old typewriter to write stories, poems, and songs in his new paradise. He was fondly known as “Cowboy Fred” for his love of singing cowboy songs during trail rides. 

Fred and his wife Margaret graciously continue to share their life and home, a place where “Joy Abounds” with family and friends.

In addition to his wife Margaret, Dr. Berlinger is survived by his son Adam, daughter Diane and step-children Paul Childress and Jeffery Childress, and six grandchildren: Jacob Berlinger, Zoe Berlinger, Alex Soteras, Michael Soteras, Burke Childress, and Bodhi Childress. 

He was preceded in death by his previous wife, Rachel Engar Berlinger.

The family will hold a reception and celebration of Fred’s life on May 1h, 2024 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at the family home. 

For questions or directions, please contact the McFarland Funeral Home at 828-859-9341. 

An online guest register is available at

McFarland Funeral Chapel
Tryon, NC