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A TRIBUTE TO NORMAN BERNSTEIN - Bernstein Management News

A TRIBUTE TO NORMAN BERNSTEIN

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On Monday, July 5, Norman Bernstein, founder of Bernstein Management Corporation, passed away at the age of 100. A savvy real estate developer and philanthropist, he was a true “renaissance man”, as described in the Washington Post, and known as both a gentleman and a gentle man.

Norman founded Norman Bernstein Management in 1953. His son, Josh Bernstein, took over the business in 1993, and it was renamed Bernstein Management Corporation. Norman remained a frequent and valued presence and was known for his kind demeanor and uncanny ability to remember every detail. During a company tribute to Mr. Bernstein, team members shared stories about him all with a common theme – his kindness and intelligence

Bernstein Management Corporation prides itself on being people first. Norman treated every person with kindness and never lost his sense of humility or gratitude. He approached customer service with “17 ounces to the pound”, a lesson he learned from his father. Each year Bernstein Management Corporation recognizes one team member with the Norman Bernstein Award. This award celebrates the individual who most closely embodies Norman’s values.

Norman was a social activist both locally and abroad. His philanthropic activities were broad, and often involved his personal leadership as well as major financial support. Organizations he was actively involved in and supported include: Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, National Symphony Orchestra, United Jewish Appeal Endowment, United Jewish Appeal (Now Jewish Federation), Adas Israel Synagogue, Sheridan School, Sidwell Friends School, State of Israel Bonds, Children’s Hospital, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Israel. In addition to serving on their boards, he often led building and development initiatives and helped these organizations in growing and managing their endowments. In 1965, he and his wife Diane established the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation to involve their children and later grandchildren in their charitable giving and to continue their philanthropic legacy.

Norman was a quiet and gentle person but stepped up to help when he saw injustice or someone in need. One of the defining moments of his career occurred in 1961when Harris Wofford, special assistant to President Kennedy, called a meeting of “Washington real estate men” at the State Department seeking their help housing visiting African diplomats. At the time, housing in the city was segregated and black individuals were not able to rent apartments in many buildings. Norman Bernstein raised the hypocrisy of the issue, suggesting to all gathered that they join him and take the opportunity to offer their apartments to not only visiting African dignitaries, but Americans of color as well. This was met with resistance by other property owners. Norman urged others to be “partners for social progress” saying they could “be proud in pioneering breakthrough in Washington”, as mentioned in the Washington Business Journal. Norman Bernstein seized the moment, actively lobbying fellow owners to follow his lead in opening their buildings to renters of all races, and going public with his position:

“The issue of racial discrimination is certainly not a local problem – it is a national problem. In my opinion, it is one of the great moral challenges of this century… do we rise to the challenge and carry our country on to greater glory, or do we continue to flounder and to evade the issue? I believe to ignore it is to weaken our moral fiber and to injure our position among other nations.”

Norman Bernstein, Washington Post Op-Ed, July 1961

Mr. Bernstein and his wife Diane, who passed in May of this year, are survived by their 6 children and 12 grandchildren. They are missed beyond measure, but their impact and legacy continue.

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