Renowned expert witness, 86, dies

 Dr. Emanuel Tanay, who died Aug. 5, was a Holocaust survivor, a devoted husband, father and grandfather, a forensic psychiatrist, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School of Wayne State University in Detroit. 


As a teenage boy during World War II, he survived the Holocaust in Poland and Hungary, living on false papers to conceal the fact that he was a Jew — which required enormous resourcefulness, courage and ingenuity on a daily basis, as most of the local population worked very hard to identify Jews and hand them over to the German occupiers to be killed. With his father confined to and later killed at the P?aszów concentration camp depicted in Schindler’s List, Dr. Tanay became the leader of his family, saving the lives of his mother, his sister Olenka, his childhood sweetheart Gina — as well as his own life. He and his family were liberated in Budapest in 1945. His book “Passport To Life: Autobiographical Reflections on the Holocaust” is a memoir and meditation on his survival.

In his memoir, he observed, “My greatest triumph is that being a Jew will not be the cause of my death.”

Dr. Tanay was a well-known forensic psychiatrist — an expert witness in many famous cases, including those of Jack Ruby, Ted Bundy, Sam Sheppard, and Robert Garwood. He was the author of many publications, including a book on homicide, and “American Legal Injustice: Behind the Scenes with an Expert Witness.” He was also co-author of a psychiatric book on survivors of the Holocaust. 

A practicing psychiatrist and psychotherapist for several decades, Dr. Tanay joined the psychiatric practice of James Graves, M.D. in Grosse Pointe in 1958, and later practiced out of his office in Detroit’s Fisher Building for many years.
Dr. Tanay was a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences — the highest award the Academy grants. He also received the highest award from the American Academy for Psychiatry and the Law, and was a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a Past President of the Michigan Psychiatric Society. 

Additionally, Dr. Tanay was well-known in the Detroit metropolitan area in the 1970s and 80s as a frequent guest of radio personality J.P. McCarthy.

An avid sailor for most of his adult life, Dr. Tanay was captain of the sailboat Caprice.

Dr. Tanay is survived by his wife Sandra (Eddy) of Ann Arbor; his daughters Elaine Tanay (Brian Meleski) of Charleston, South Carolina, Anita Hersh (Stephen) of Highland Park, Illinois; his son David (Stacey) of Okemos, Michigan—as well as six grandchildren: Aaron, Sara, and Jeremy Hersh; and Rachel, James, and Catherine Tanay; and his niece, Danita Needleman of Sydney, Australia.