Bernard Berkman, age 89, loving husband, devoted father of 4, grandfather of 10, successful businessman and philanthropist, passed away peacefully after a courageous battle with cancer on September 25, 2020 at his home in Newton surrounded by three generations of his loving family.
Bernard George Berkman was born in Roxbury and lived as an adult in Brookline, Wellesley, Newton, and in Florida near Sarasota. He attended public schools in Roxbury and Cambridge until asthma and an independent streak brought him to Arizona for middle school and high school and then Florida to attend the Admiral Farragut Academy.
He acquired his interest in business from his father, Samuel R. Berkman, a successful businessman in his own right, who offered his son opportunities to meet interesting and famous people like the heavy weight champion boxers Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey. He honed his natural entrepreneurial acumen at Babson College (where he remained as a Trustee Emeritus).
Strong-willed, whip smart, confident, persistent, with an abiding fairness and good humor, along with a strong sense of loyalty to friends and family, Bernard struck out on his own in his twenties, like a man on a mission. Confident in his vision and skill, he pursued several areas of commerce over a very successful and diverse 70 year career including Schrafft Candies, liquor sales and distribution, real estate sales/financing, health care and nursing home ownership/management, property management, venture capital, and perhaps most prominently investment finance – most of which ran through Bernard G. Berkman Associates based in Brookline.
A devoted father and husband, whose fervent wish was to support, encourage, take care, and guide his children and their children. His family was his whole world. He planned several family trips and cruises, generously creating time and space away together for family memories and to help its members build bonds that will last forever. He was often heard to encourage his children and their spouses to “take care of each other” and to lovingly admonish “may your tribes increase.”
He often shared his wisdom about life and business. Regaling listeners with stories – amazing tales of investments that through some wonderful alchemy of intelligence, knowledge, and foresight, that yielded healthy returns and lasting relationships. Patient but smart and diverse capital were his watch words, surpassed only by his motto: early to bed early to rise, work like hell and amortize.
A true mensch, he was also committed to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, through his compassion and philanthropy. Among many other causes, he supported the efforts of low-income young people to pursue high school and college education, he supported the arts and medical science, and he helped young Israelis to learn how to play tennis and succeed in school through support for the Israeli Tennis Center.
He leaves his loving and devoted wife Nancy of Newton, MA; his daughter Debra Berkman of Westford; his son Robert Berkman and daughter-in-law Hilde Berkman of Wellesley; his daughter Linda Diamond and his son-in-law Joseph Diamond of Westford, MA; his daughter Jennifer Berkman of Newton; his grandchildren Stefanie Sparrow and her husband Steve Varney of Chelmsford, Shayna Sparrow of Cambridge and her husband Nick Aguilera, Lauren Berkman of New York City, Barrick Berkman of Scottsdale, AZ, Lindsey Berkman of Apache Junction, AZ, Sydney Diamond and her husband David Edwards of Burlington, VT, Ellie Diamond of Burlington, VT, and Samantha, Carly, and Talia Saada of Newton, MA. Bernard also leaves his beloved havenese dog Karma who helped Nancy through her battle with cancer and comforted Bernard over these past difficult days. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bernard Berkman’s memory to: The Mass General Cancer Center MGH Cancer Center At Newton-Wellesley Hospital www.giving.massgeneral.org ,MGH Development Office, 125 Nashua Street, Suite 54, Boston, MA 02114 ,The Babson College Fund www.givecampus.com , or The Israeli Tennis Center www.itecenters.org.