Former Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Levitt Flisser’s Balance

Responding to both patients and constituents


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(page 1 of 3)

Levitt Flisser (pictured here during her tenure as mayor of Scarsdale) will be running for the open seat in the Fifth District for the County Legislature. photo courtesy of HL Flisser“You have to come together in some kind of consensus that will produce a beneficial result,” says Miriam Levitt Flisser, MD. “Even if I know best,” she says, “what’s going to help the patients is me and the parents developing a plan that works best for the patient, and that’s very similar to conflicts in government.” 

Levitt Flisser is a pediatrician, former mayor of Scarsdale, and candidate this November for the open seat in the Fifth District for the County Legislature. We meet at her Scarsdale home, and for some of the time her husband joins us. Harvey Flisser has just retired after 45 years of teaching science, first in the Bronx and then in Scarsdale. Service-oriented like his wife, he says he’d hesitated to make the move to the Westchester schools 25 years ago because he wasn’t sure the Scarsdale kids needed him as much as the Bronx ones did. Eventually, he realized that they did, though their needs were different. He went on to be, according to Henry J. Landau, a mathematician and constituent who became a friend of the couple, “a revered teacher in Scarsdale schools.” 

The couple met as undergrads at NYU when the school had a campus in the Bronx. “We were the last two people on the bus,” Levitt Flisser says. “He held the door for me and we walked up the hill. By the time we got to the top, I knew I was going to marry him.” She was so sure, she says, that when she finished her lab class that day, she went to a phone booth and broke off another relationship. “He called me a couple of days later, asked me to go out, and we went to a Nina Simone concert for his 21st birthday. From then on, we were together.” 

Her husband later recounts the story just as vividly. “She was absolutely the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Then, as I got to know her, I began to appreciate how smart she was. You didn’t have to carry the conversation yourself. We had interests that were the same: certain kinds of music, certain authors, the current cinema. The year before we married, we saw about 180 movies.” 

They married when she graduated. Her parents, she says, had encouraged her to go to medical school because, her father told her, “It’s wonderful to earn a living by helping people.” In those days, she says, for a woman to go to medical school “was looked down on, not respected, not considered feminine,” but her new husband accepted and encouraged it. Their first child, a son who is now a surgeon, was born when she was a resident, and their twins two years later when she was a junior attending physician. “It was unquestionably difficult,” she says, “but we did it. All the other things people do—watching TV, going to the movies—we didn’t do any of that. We just took care of the kids. It was definitely worth it.” 

 

 

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