Bernard Bender was born 10-26-1925 in Brooklyn New York to orthodox Jewish Eastern European immigrant parents, Robert Bender and Celia Borodin Bender. He had one older sister, Lorraine Bruder Roberts, who predeceased him by one year. He grew up in a Brooklyn house subdivided into apartments where all his neighbors in the building were his mother’s sisters and their families, so his first cousins were like siblings to him. After serving in the Navy at the end of WWII, Mr Bender studied engineering and management at Hofstra University. His adventurous spirit and enormous self-confidence first took him out of Brooklyn to Plainview, New York on Long Island first, which at that time was still mostly rural and considered to be another world by the rest of his family. After Long Island he took new jobs or promotions every two to three years to take on new challenges. He moved to Allentown, PA, Wheeling, WV, Cleveland & Beachwood, OH, LaCrosse, WI, and Jacksonville, NC before settling in Fayetteville and Durham, NC.
He began his career in the garment industry by doing time-study and quality-control work for a manufacturing plant in Allentown, PA. As his career progressed, he was promoted to positions with increasing levels of responsibility, from managing a single manufacturing plant, to managing several plants at once, then to managing the production of garments in a whole region of the country, and finally brought into corporate headquarters as a national director and corporate Vice President. After he learned everything he needed, he moved to NC to start his own apparel manufacturing business near Fayetteville, NC. He operated and grew that business until he retired. When he retired, he and his wife moved in as one of the first group of residents to “The Forest at Duke” retirement community in Durham and lived there for over 25 years.
He spent his last few years caring for his wife Marion, who became increasingly unable to care for herself after a major stroke. They moved together into the skilled nursing wing of the Forest community and insisted on staying together even though at that time Bernie did not require that level of care himself. Bernie devotedly and lovingly pushed her around in her wheelchair, and daily brought her into the dining room for meals where he physically fed her until he had a stroke in June 2019 (his second stroke), from which he never really rebounded. He became seriously ill with a raging infection in August, and after a brief hospital stay, was returned home where he died in his own bed. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Marion Dorita Greenberg Bender, as well as his four children, Leslie Bender (Peter Sandwall, deceased) of Syracuse NY, Cliff Bender (Alice Garcia Bender) of Fayetteville, NC, Steven Bender (Jim Norlie, who died less than 2 months ago) of Monmouth OR and Robert Bender (Lory Myerson) of NY, NY and Madison, CT. He has grandchildren from coast to coast: Benjamin Saller (Jola Hyjek), Rachael Saller Bender, Alida Misimi (Rebekah Williams Misimi), Nana Sang Bender, Jonathan Farmer (Rasha Rahman), Melissa K. Bender, Michael Bender (Shenandoah Hellman), Brian Bender (Kelsey Jessup), Lily Bender, and Zach Bender. He is also survived by nine great grandchildren: Adeline, Calvin, Rain, Viva, Ziasia, Raphael, Fifi, Amani, and Amabella. Last, but not least, he was Uncle Bernie to his 9 nieces and nephews, their life partners, children, and grandchildren.
The family is still considering how best to celebrate Bernie’s life. You are welcome to leave remembrances here.