Remembering Geoffrey E. Linburn, psychiatrist who retired in Berkeley

During a 35-year career in psychiatry, Dr. Geoffrey E. Linburn treated private patients and also worked in institutional and community settings.

Geoffrey E. Linburn. Courtesy of the Linburn family

Geoffrey E. Linburn died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on Aug. 24 at the Chaparral House. He was 81. He was born Sept. 25, 1939, in New York City, the second of three children. His parents were James Sichel Linburn and Edith Erdmann Linburn. 

Geoffrey attended Collegiate School in Manhattan and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1957, Harvard University in 1961 (with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy), and Stanford Medical School in 1969. While in California at medical school he met Katherine Elizabeth Payne. They married in September 1967. Geoff and Kathy moved to Denver for his internship at Denver Health Medical Center, then to Chicago for a psychiatry residency at University of Chicago, where their daughter, Deidre (Didi) was born. After moving to Vermont to complete his medical training at Dartmouth Medical School, his wife died from injuries sustained in a car accident. He remained a single parent to Didi for the rest of his life.

During a 35-year career in psychiatry, Dr. Linburn treated private patients and also worked in institutional and community settings. He worked initially as the director of counseling services at Vassar College and at MIT. In 1977 he took a position as the psychiatrist at the Hingham, Massachusetts, district court clinic, and continued to serve as a psychiatrist in community-based mental health clinics in the Boston area until his retirement in 2011. His retirement years were spent in El Cerrito and Berkeley near his daughter, his son-in-law, his grandchildren and his extended family.

In his free time Geoffrey pursued athletic and intellectual interests. As a life-long learner he practiced handwriting analysis and studied the intersection of psychiatry and law. In 1998, the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law accepted his insightful paper, “Donaldson Revisited: Is Dangerousness a Constitutional Requirement for Civil Commitment?” Inclined to seek a challenge, he packed a bicycle, skis or hiking boots on most of his travels domestic and abroad. He appreciated a wide variety of musical styles and was an accomplished pianist. He also studied and played bridge with his closest friends, having played his final round just the week before he died.

He is predeceased by his parents and wife, Katherine Payne Linburn. He is survived by his daughter, Deidre Linburn Alley; his son-in-law, Tim Alley; and his grandchildren, Miller, Tilden and Sasha in Berkeley; by his brother, Alan Linburn in New York City; and by his sister, Gail Derzon, in Madison, Wisconsin. He also leaves a niece and nephew and their families, as well as his wife’s extended family in the Pacific Northwest.

Geoff’s memory will be celebrated in gatherings of friends and family in the Bay Area and on the East Coast. He will be buried in Thetford, Vermont, beside his late wife, Kathy.