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Marvin A. Steinberg 1936-2021

Marvin A. Steinberg, 84 Guilford, CT

Dr. Marvin Steinberg, a longtime resident of Guilford, passed away January 25th at home with his loving family by his side. He was the beloved husband and soulmate to Catherine Nogas Steinberg and loving father and “best, best buddy” to Aaron Taos. Marvin was born in New York City on December 16, 1936, son of the late Max Steinberg and Claire Steinberg. He was the brother of Roslyn Steinberg of New York City.

Marvin grew up in a low-income community with few models of educational and economic success. He was determined to contribute to reducing the psychological stress for individuals, families and the community. While in college in NYC, Marvin worked part-time in a detention center for violent male adolescents. He graduated from City College of New York and received an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. While in graduate school, Marvin worked part-time with an organization of multi-racial staff that conducted workshops for teachers in various school districts in Texas to enhance their awareness and sensitivity to racial issues in their schools.

Marvin then accepted a two-year teaching position in the Overseas Division of the University of Maryland, where he provided academic courses to military personnel on bases in Germany, Turkey and Ethiopia for credit at the University of Maryland. Marvin involved his students in the cultural settings relevant to the psychology courses he taught, e.g., in Ethiopia they observed and interacted with patients in a mental hospital and also visited a native healer’s compound.

Marvin began his career as a clinical psychologist in Connecticut at the Hamden Mental Health Service (HMHS). His role changed over time, from clinician, to supervision of prevention programs to overseeing the clinical program, to serving as Acting Director until his retirement.

At different times over his twenty-three years at HMHS, Marvin received adjunct teaching positions in the Psychology Departments of three area universities. In a community project on behalf of HMHS, he collaborated with the prevention unit at Yale University (Consultation Center) to create a program (CT Self Help/Mutual Support Network) which provided support and skill development for community members who sought help in starting and maintaining a self-help/mutual support group.

Marvin co-founded the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG) in 1980 and he served as Executive Director for over 30 years. At the founding of the CCPG in 1980 it became the first state affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The mission of the CCPG was to widely educate the community about problem gambling, to develop prevention programs, as well as advocate for the creation of a state funded problem gambling treatment program. Marvin’s advocacy played a major role in the passage in CT in 1981 of legislation which created the first in the nation state-funded and operated gambling treatment program within state government, Problem Gambling Services (PGS). CCPG’s Helpline was the primary source of referrals for this program. Marvin served as the part-time clinical and program consultant for the state program in its first two years.

Marvin developed excellent relationships with the local, state and national media and was called upon frequently for input into their coverage of issues about gambling and problem gambling, e.g., Dateline. On the local level, he and a CCPG colleague had created a weekly call-in radio show, which was videotaped for local TV.

Marvin joined the Board of Directors of the NCPG and served terms as Vice President and Secretary of the Board. He was also a member of the Certification Committee which developed standards necessary for clinicians to meet in order to be certified by the NCPG. As a member of the Fundraising Committee, Marvin raised the funds needed to hire the professional the board wanted for the Executive Director position.

Marvin and a recovering stock market gambler, brought awareness through their presentations and writings, that some areas of the stock market were not investments but gambling which fostered problem gambling. For several years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acknowledged problem gambling in the financial markets by providing a link to the CCPG website where information about problem gambling in the markets could be found.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribal Nations successfully negotiated with the State of Connecticut to legalize casino gambling. Subsequently, each of the Tribal Nations built very large and profitable casinos: Foxwoods Resort Casino (1992) and Mohegan Sun (1996). Marvin developed a collaborative relationship with each casino and each provided significant ongoing funding for the CCPG. Marvin also raised ongoing funding for the NCPG from Mohegan Sun.

Marvin collaborated with Foxwoods to create the first Self-Exclusion Program in a casino in the U.S. Gamblers who recognized that their gambling at the casino(s) was destructive and out of control could request that the facility not permit them to enter. Marvin served on the Responsible Gambling Committees at both casinos, where decisions were made about programs related to responsible gambling and problem gambling. Marvin also provided extensive training for management personnel at both casinos to increase understanding of problem gambling and ways to manage encounters with problem gamblers.

In 1990, Marvin co-authored the first Responsible Gaming Resource Guide for the American Gaming Association, which was utilized by most casinos in the U.S. In addition, representing the CCPG he was co-creator and member of the CT Partnership for Responsible Gambling including the state gambling treatment program. For many years, CCPG collaborated with colleagues at Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry on research utilizing data from CCPG’s Helpline. Other areas of research collaboration were teenage gambling and the relationship of cocaine and gambling. All of the studies were published in peer reviewed journals.

Marvin was committed to making a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families and the community. He fulfilled the commitment through his various contributions to the problem gambling field in the areas of treatment, public awareness education, research and professional skill development. Many of the hundreds of individuals and families he helped directly (treated) and indirectly (Helpline) expressed their appreciation to him. He received many awards for his pioneering contributions to the field of Problem Gambling. Among them were Lifetime Achievement Awards from the NCPG and from the Connecticut chapter of the American Psychological Association.

Marvin very much appreciated the fine work of the CCPG staff, reflected in numerous NCPG awards for the CCPG’s outstanding programs. In addition, Governor M. Jodi Rell recognized the CCPG in a Proclamation for 30 years of service to the state’s problem gamblers and their families.

Marvin met his wife, Catherine, shortly after her return from two years in Bolivia and the happy couple married in 1983. Marvin loved to travel with his family in the U.S. and other countries. He enthusiastically shared in many of Catherine’s adventures in New Mexico. Marvin did not become a parent until late in life and treasured being a dad to his son Aaron. The two of them had an especially close father-son bond, and, Aaron is eternally grateful for the unconditional love and support he received from Marvin. Lacking artistic talent himself, Marvin especially enjoyed that Catherine was a painter and Aaron a singer song writer.

Since Marvin grew up in NYC, he would take every opportunity to spend time in nature. He especially enjoyed fishing with his son outside the U.S. e.g., in Canada and Belize. Fishing in the mangroves in Southwest Florida was Marvin’s favorite place to fish in the U.S. During the summers, he would often be seen with Aaron fishing on their boat in Long Island sound.

Marvin often expressed his love and appreciation to Catherine for her loving commitment to overseeing Marvin’s care, which deepened their relationship. Despite his failing health due to congestive heart failure and kidney disease, Marvin never lost his perspective or his sense of humor.

Marvin and his family have had much gratitude for the expert care and guidance received from the Yale Comprehensive Heart Failure Program, especially Rebecca Austin, PA, and to his cardiologists Daniel Jacoby, MD and Steven Jacoby, MD. Thanks also to nephrologist Joni Hansson, MD and to Alan Weiss, MD, Marvin’s primary care doctor over many years. They are also grateful for the care and dedication of his caregivers, Federico Chan and Rosa Casas. Much credit is due to the Guilford VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice which provided caring, thoughtful, skillful assistance during Marvin’s illness.

Besides his wife, son and sister, Marvin is survived by his wife’s brothers, Jeffrey and Michael Nogas, and their wives Janis and Nancy, respectively, and his wife’s sister, Susan Nogas and her husband Dave. He is also survived by his niece, Michelle Nogas and her husband Juan Carlos and his nephew, Matthew Nogas. No memorial service is planned at this time. Gifts of remembrance can be made to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), 100 Great Meadow Rd., Wethersfield, CT 06109.

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