Berkeley resident and computer programmer Alexander Tsukerman died at Maui Memorial Medical Center after he was found floating off Maluaka Beach on Saturday, where he had been snorkeling. He was 71.
Tsukerman was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, as a single child in his family. He went on to also attend college in Saint Petersburg and received a doctorate in neurology. In Russia, Tsukerman married his wife, Natasha Tsukerman, and had a daughter, Katharine Markova, and the three of them emigrated to the United States in 1979.
Berkeley was the first city in which they settled after emigrating, according to his son Michael Tsukerman, and they lived in Berkeley for about two to three years. After living in various other places such as Moraga and Oakland, Alexander and Natasha Tsukerman became residents of Berkeley again roughly five years ago.
“My dad is kind of one of my heroes,” Michael Tsukerman said. “It’s crazy to think about how he left Russia and took that leap of faith.”
While studying neurology in the 1970s, Michael Tsukerman said that his father sent some of his work to UC Berkeley, where it remains in campus archives.
Though Alexander Tsukerman studied neurology, he made a living in computer programming. He worked throughout Silicon Valley from the 1980s until the 2000s, according to Michael Tsukerman.
“My father was small in stature but big in life,” Markova said. “He was a big presence for everybody.”
He had been retired for a number of years, during which he “traveled the world,” according to Michael Tsukerman.
His father loved the outdoors and long hikes, in addition to snorkeling, Michael Tsukerman said. Markova added that he wasn’t “specifically religious,” but he had a respect for religions and culture. She characterized him as “a Renaissance man” and “philosophical by nature.”
“My dad travelled the world and one of his favorite pastimes was snorkeling, so it was kind of a strange irony,” Michael Tsukerman said. “My dad went out doing what he loved in his most favorite place on Earth … and that’s the saving grace for me and my family.”