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Richard B. Chernov
December 28th, 2001
Richard B. Chernov — teacher, attorney and co-director of Birch Trail Camp for Girls in Minong — died peacefully at his camp home of cancer on Dec. 16. He was 56, and had “lived courageously with his illness for three-and-a-half years,” said his family.
Born in Norfolk, Va., he graduated from Whitefish Bay High School in 1964, earned a bachelor of science degree at Bradley University (1968) and a law degree from Marquette University (1975). He taught in the Milwaukee Public School system before embarking on his law practice.
He became a partner in the firm of Chernov, Croen and Stern, where he practiced with his father. During his law career, he became founder and co-president of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Wisconsin; founder and chair of the Wisconsin Section of the Immigration and Nationality Lawyers Association; and founder and chair of the Milwaukee Bar Association’s Immigration Lawyers Section. He also served on the Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility, Milwaukee Section.
In 1986, Chernov left the practice of law to return to his first love: working with children in the outdoors. He became co-director with his wife, Barbara (nee Cohen), of Birch Trail Camp. His family in a written statement said that he “adored working with children. He believed that each person represented a wonderfully complex amalgam of human frailty, unlimited imagination and the wisdom of the universe.” He also “firmly believed in the need to strengthen the emotional intelligence of children, and was committed to helping them navigate the roads leading them into adulthood by providing them with the necessary tools and supporting them along the way.”
The family added that his influence on Birch Trail’s campers and staff “was so profound” that memorial services and gatherings of camp veterans have been organized throughout the country, including Houston, Chicago and Nashville.
He also saw the greater vision of the camping movement, his family said, and “generously shared his innovative ideas and wisdom” with colleagues. He often spoke at professional camping conferences and conventions; and served on the board of directors and as ethics chairman of the American Camping Association’s Wisconsin Section.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Dylan and Gabriel and daughter Tanya of Minong; parents Mimi and Ben Chernov of Milwaukee; sister Martha (Kenneth) Von Kluck of Glencoe, Ill; brothers-in-law Michael Cohen of New York and Gary Henson of Tuscon, Ariz.; and sister-in-law Marilyn Henson of Tuscon.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, Dec. 29, 3:30 p.m. at Renaissance Place, 1451 N. Prospect Ave.
A memorial fund is being established to send children with cancer to summer camp. The family suggests consideration of memorial donations to The Richard Chernov Children’s Fund, P.O. Box 527, Minong, WI 54859.