For more than a half-century, Herb Ruben was an advocate for mental health services on Long Island, leading one of the most respected agencies in Nassau County. The long-time leader of the Peninsula Counseling Center died on May 20 at the age of 87.
Ruben was born on Aug. 15, 1925 in Atlantic City. He grew up in Philadelphia and attended St. Joseph’s College and the University of Chicago. Ruben held a master’s degree in social work and served as the executive director of Family Services of the Five Towns, which later became the Peninsula Counseling Center, from 1958 to 2010. He lived in Long Beach.
Bob Block, executive director of Five Towns Community Chest which has provided funding to PCC over the years, said Ruben was instrumental to the mental health agency’s success. “He led them to tremendous growth and served our community very well,” Block said. “He will be missed by hundreds if not thousands of lives he guided to better health and an improved quality of life.”
Jay Greenbaum, of Hewlett, was president of Peninsula’s Board of Directors when Ruben retired. “He was the face of PCC, a visionary, known in the industry,” Greenbaum said. “There wasn’t anyone in the industry or in government who didn’t know who he was.”
“For decades, Herb Ruben opened his heart and his mind to understand, respect and dignify those who came to PCC for hope and a better quality of life,” said Executive Director John Kastan on behalf of the staff and Board of Directors. “Herb devoted endless time and energy in the service of the people of Nassau County as a distinguished leader and role model in community mental health. His commitment to others was second to none.”
During World War II, he was a member of the 1st Division Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa. For many years, he wrote a column, “Let’s Talk it Over,” for the South Shore Record. He worked on behalf of veterans, most recently at New York University Medical School’s Veteran’s Family Support Clinic. He served as president of Temple Beth Emeth, the only Reconstructionist synagogue on Long Island’s South Shore.
Ruben leaves behind his sons, Michael and Sandy, daughters-in-law, Kelly Easton Ruben and Kirsten Ruben, four grandchildren, five step-grandchildren and a great granddaughter. A funeral service will be held at Boulevard-Riverside Chapel in Hewlett on Thursday, May 23, at 11:30 a.m. Internment will follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park. Contributions in his memory can be made to the American Jewish World Service.