Michael J. Higgins Funeral Service Inc.

321 South Main Street, New City, NY


Maria Spinak

2 January , 193619 July , 2019

Maria Spinak, MD 1936-2019

Prominent Rockland County physician, Dr. Maria Spinak passed away unexpectedly at Mount Sinai hospital, on Friday, July 19th. Born in Grodno, Poland, January 2, 1936 to Simon Plakes and Lisa Palkes.

Dr Spinak, graduated medical school in St. Petersburg, Russia and continued her study in a medical school in Lodz, Poland where she met, and married George Spinak – prominent professor of internal medicine.

In 1963, George and Maria had their first son, Andrew,and then emigrated from communist Poland to the USA in 1968. She taught herself English by reading dictionaries and medical books and after two years of study, Maria passed all the exams necessary to apply for work as a doctor in a hospital. During this time, Maria gave birth to her second son, Robert in 1969.

She was one of the first female physicians to obtain a residency position at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine after doing research at Metropolitan Hospital in NY.

Dr. Maria Spinak is one of the most accomplished ophthalmologists in the United States. She carried out research and published numerous papers in scientific journals. Her interest was in cytology and cornea infections. Maria has lectured abroad and at such prestigious universities and teaching hospitals as Harvard, Mt. Sinai and New York University. She was a Senior Attending Ophthalmologist at Nyack and Good Samaritan Hospitals in Rockland County, and she was an Assistant Clinical Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 1976, Dr. Spinak opened a private practice in Pearl River, N.Y., which is now in the hands of her son, Andrew.

Dr. Maria is survived by her two sons, Dr. Andrew Spinak and his wife Sandra, Robert Spinak, Esq and his wife Jill. Five grandchildren: Alexandra, Nicole, Gabriella, Jack and Arielle. And her brother and sister in law, Marc and Sonia Palkes, many nieces, nephews, cousins and a wide circle of friends.

The Service will be held at Higgins Funeral Home on Sunday July 21st at 11:00AM. Shiva will be at the home of Dr. Maria Spinak on the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The family would deeply appreciate donations be made to the Montefiore Nyack Hospital Hospital, 160 N Midland Ave, Nyack, New York, or the American Heart Association, Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS), or American Friends of Hebrew University, in the memory of Dr. Maria Spinak.


  • Funeral Service Sunday, 21 July , 2019


Maria Spinak

have a memory or condolence to add?

Chaim Lieberperson

23 July 2019

May Dr. Maria's memory be for blessing. My cross the street neighbor, my first ophthalmologist...and most importantly devoted mom of my childhood playmates with whom I spent untold and uncountable hours. Gifted and innovative scientist, innovative and practitioner; sensitive & kind; beautiful soul. Z"l.

Naomi Ambalu

21 July 2019

Dr. Spinak was a godsend to my parents and me when we first arrived in the USA in 1992. I had an ophthalmologic condition that required surgery and my parents were completely lost in a new country. Dr. Spinak performed the surgery for free out of the goodness of her heart. We will be forever grateful for the kindness she showed to us. Rest In Peace, Dr. Spinak.

Nancy Kraus

21 July 2019

I can’t express how much Dr. Maria meant to me over the years. She always brought so much light into my life as well as the lives of all those around her. I enjoyed working with her and will miss her. May your memories of this magnificent woman give you peace and comfort

Genee Schachter

21 July 2019

29 years ago I became associated with Dr. Maria Spinak when I became her Ophthalmic Technician on the opening of the Spinak Medical Center. Over the years, it was my pleasure to to have know this charismatic woman who achieved so much in her life. I give eternal thanks to her for being my mentor and friend. She will be missed dearly.

John Chang

20 July 2019

Dr. Maria Spinak was my first boss in the real world and I will be forever grateful to her for giving me an opportunity to be a part of the wonderful practice she built. She was a true pioneer for women in ophthalmology. Back in the 80's, there were very few women in surgical subspecialties, let alone immigrant women with two young children to raise. Somehow, Maria not only made it work, but thrived. A great intellect who did not suffer fools lightly, she was never anything but supportive, guiding and loving to me. Thank you, Maria. I hope to conduct myself in a manner that will make you proud.