KENOSHA, Wis. — Bernhart G. Lerner, 82, died unexpectedly Jan. 28, 2010, in Kenosha, Wis.
He was born May 1, 1927, to George B. Lerner and Golda (Withrow) Lerner. He married the late Barbara J. Jacquet on Feb. 29, 1964, at the Gay Street Methodist Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He graduated first in his class at Wahama High School, Mason, W.Va., in 1945 and was proud of his family’s riverfront home on the Ohio River and his family’s general store, the Lerner Cash Store which served his beloved hometown of Hartford, W.Va., for 70 years. He had been a member of Hartford United Methodist Church, where as a youth he regularly played piano at church services and he played baseball for the Hartford Tigers. As a young man, he also occasionally worked with his father who worked as a U.S. Postal Railway Postmaster between Kenova, W.Va., and Pittsburgh, Pa. In his youth, he enjoyed visiting extended family in Saxonburg, Pa., and Naples, Fla. A proud World War II veteran, he served in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman 3rd Class from 1945-46 onboard the USS Saratoga and USS Riegel throughout the Pacific Theater. He was a 1950 graduate of Ohio University and was a proud, lifetime member of the VFW, AMVETS and American Legion. Bernhart was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific, Philippine Liberation, American Area and Victory Ribbons for his service. He loved to tell of winning the title of “Table Tennis Champion” while onboard the USS Riegel. After the war, he worked as the manager of his family’s business, the Lerner Cash Store in Hartford, W.Va., and he worked for American Electric Power as a cost accountant during the construction of hydroelectric power plants in West Virginia and Virginia. During the 1960s, he lived in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and worked for the Cooper-Bessemer Co. In 1971, he relocated to Marion, Ohio, to work as a salesman for the Marion Power Shovel. For the last 15 years of his career he was a Certified Fraud Examiner for the Ohio Auditor of State during the administration of Thomas Ferguson. He was a campaign coordinator for former Congressman Ken Hechler in West Virginia and campaigned for Sen. John Glenn. An avid political button collector, he owned a collection of over 10,000 political buttons which he proudly displayed at events. He was well known as an avid movie fan, a loyal Brooklyn Dodger fan and proud of his late baseball player cousin, Benny Kauff, who was an outfielder for the New York Giants. Bernhart was proud to say he had been to all 50 States, many of them by train, another of his passions. He had extensive knowledge of world history, American literature and baseball.
He is survived by his two daughters, Fawn (Charles) Lerner-Gilli of Tampa, Fla., and Lizbeth (Joseph) Huscroft of Okinawa, Japan; his son, Jared Lerner (Sara) of Waukegan, Ill.; his three grandchildren, Sabrina Gilli, Hannah Huscroft and Paige Lerner; his brothers-in-law, Oscar (Jean) Jacquet and John (Norma Jean) Jacquet of Mount Vernon and Joseph Lecaroz of Newburgh, N.Y.; as well as nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Barbara; his sister, Patricia Lecaroz; and recently by his granddaughter, Brooke A. Lerner.
His family will receive friends today from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Hughes-Allen Funeral Home in Marion, Ohio, with funeral services immediately following. Burial will be in the Lone Oak Cemetery, Point Pleasant, W.Va., in the Lerner/Withrow/Ginther family plot on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m.
If desired, expressions of sympathy may be sent directly to his family by logging onto www.hughesallen.com and opening his obituary.