WHITMAN, SAMUEL (4 Dec. 1913 - 6 Dec. 1997) was a social services troubleshooter, committed to improving mental and physical health facilities in Cleveland. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, to Ida Kahn, a homemaker and saleswoman, and Louis Whitman, a cutter in the garment trade.
He graduated B.A. from City College of New York in 1936, and an M.S. from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1942. In 1951 he conducted a year of doctoral study at Columbia on a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health. His early work as a social worker included a period at the Jewish Family Service in New York and then in the child guidance program of the Michigan Dept. of Mental Health where he functioned initially as a case worker and then the founder and administrator of a new clinic.
Whitman came to Cleveland in 1947 to head the Cleveland Mental Health Association, where he remained until 1958. During that time he led efforts to improve the deplorable conditions of CLEVELAND STATE HOSPITAL and led a successful campaign to pass a $150 million state bond issue for mental hospitals. He was voted Social Worker of the Year by the local Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
He left CMHA in 1958 to become executive director of the CLEVELAND HEARING AND SPEECH CENTER, where he strengthened the relationship with Case Western Reserve University and improved the Center?s finances and reorganized the administrative structure.
After leading a successful drive to change Cleveland Metropolitan General from city to county control he was invited to become the administrator of the Cuyahoga County Hospital system. During his tenure two successful levy campaigns (1963, 1966) provided funds to modernize and expand the the facility. Whitman remained there until he completed the planning and erection of the Twin Towers at Metro, at which time he left to become the Associate Dean of the CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY Medical School as well as Assistant Professor of Community Health.
Whitman's position at the Medical School involved strengthening the ties between the school and the community, including the many health facilities and social programs. An effective liaison between the school and the community and local government, Whitman succeeded in obtaining an annual $1.5 million state subsidy for the CWRU medical and dental schools, thereby bringing them out of financial trouble. He retired in 1980, but continued to teach until 1983, when he became consultant to the CWRU School of Medicine in Community Health and remained active with the school until shortly before his death.
Whitman was appointed to numerous consulting and directorial roles associated with mental health issues, both locally and around the country and was appointed to the President's Committee on Mental Retardation under Jimmy Carter. He served on many boards and committees, including the state and county boards of Mental Health and Retardation, Hill House, Hawthornden State Hospital, the Cleveland Welfare Federation, the Cleveland Bar Association, and the Cleveland Academy of Medicine. He published numerous papers on mental health, and was a member of the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Social Work, the Ohio Psychiatric Association, and an affiliate member of the American Medical Association. He received several honors, including a Congressional Certificate of Achievement and Award in 1980 for contributions to the community, state and nation.
Whitman married Pearl Sapirstein in 1942 and they had a son, Daniel Frank. He died at his home in Cleveland Heights and was cremated.