WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Longtime friends and colleagues remember a well-known advocate for nonprofits who died in a train accident Wednesday.
Harreen Bertisch, 76, of Palm Beach Gardens, was the development manager of the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society Inc.a position she has held for the past 30 years.
“This is such an unexpected and horrific tragedy,” said WPTV legal analyst Michelle Suskauer. “She was someone everyone fell in love with immediately and everyone wanted to work with.”
Bertisch was also a longtime member of Women’s Executives of the Palm Beaches where she played a vital role in giving back to non-profit organizations according to current board chair Kate Newitt.
“Hareen had a passion for women, and she was a champion for underdogs and for all women and that described Harreen perfectly,” Newitt said.
Bertisch touched countless lives, Bob Carter was one of them.
“She was always there to support me in any way she could, and she did, and she always encouraged me, saying, ‘Bob keep doing what you’re doing. It’s important,'” Carter said.
Another friend, Gary Lewis shared the same sentiment.
“She cared about everything and everyone. Her heart was huge,” Lewis said.
He, along with those who knew Bertisch best, is now grieving and hurt.
On Wednesday, Bertisch died after a freight train hit her SUV along Fern Street in downtown West Palm Beach, police say.
Suskauer said Bertisch will be remembered for his impact on the community and his commitment to service.
“It’s always a blessing to work with her, and our hearts are broken, they really are,” Suskauer said.
Bertisch leaves behind a son, a daughter and her husband Robert Bertisch who is the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.