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Joan Edgar Bernhard

1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Joan Edgar Bernhard Obituary
Born on December 18th, 1924 at Flowers Hospital in New York City, Joan died peacefully at her home in Brattleboro, VT on August 6th, 2016 surrounded by family. The daughter of Margaret O'Brien Edgar and Jason Baird Edgar, her siblings were Margaret, Mary Jane, and James Edgar. As a young woman Joan had a successful modeling career in New York City, working for the Conover Model Agency in Manhattan. She eventually launched and ran her own modeling agency in New York until 1947 at which time she moved to Lyme, NH to raise a family with her husband, Manfred E. Bernhard. Joan's love of travel took her to Ireland and Spain where she and her five children lived from 1963 to 1971. After returning to the States, Joan lived in Scottsdale, AZ; San Francisco, Santa Monica, and San Raphael, CA, before finally settling in Brattleboro, VT in 1998, where she lived for the remainder of her life. During her time in Brattleboro, Joan could often be seen doing her errands downtown with a succession of trusty guide dogs. She was an avid gardener, writer, and painter, all of which she continued to actively engage despite diminished eyesight caused by macular degeneration. Joan was a vastly creative and curious person, at various times throughout her life studying and practicing the arts of interior design, furniture restoration, theatre, acting, astrology and numerology. She was active in Ex-Sighted Artists and participated in several writers' groups. Just prior to her death she completed work on her first novel, El Coctel, which will be published in the coming months. Roman Catholic by choice in her late teens, Joan was also a long-time practitioner of yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong. During the last two decades of life she became dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism and found her way to reconciling traditions, and for a time considered herself a 'Catholic Buddhist'. Until recent years, Joan attended St. Michael's Catholic Church in Brattleboro. She was a student of Lama Gersam, who significantly inspired her Dharma practice, in addition to studying and practicing with several other teachers. She practiced with various Buddhist groups in Brattleboro, Springfield, and Manchester VT, and though she was less active than in previous years due to her health, Joan continued to host a regular weekly practice in her home beginning in 2009 which continued until just weeks before she died. Joan leaves behind a son Woody Bernhard and his wife, Susan Kunhardt, of Marlboro, VT and grandchildren Margaret Bernhard, Rose Bernhard, and Pete Bernhard; a daughter Lucienne Bernhard of Meadow Vista, CA  and grandchildren Bethany Bernhard, Lucian Peddler, and Jovian Bernhard and his family; a daughter Damaris Bernhard of Brattleboro VT, a son Robert Bernhard and his wife, Eva Bernhard and step-daughter Jem Villamar of San Francisco, CA; a step-son, Peter Bernhard, of Milford, CT,  and nieces Cate Manderson, Meg Manderson, and Erin Whitfield. Her most recent guide dog, Snickers, also survives her. Joan was predeceased by her daughter Mercedes La Guardia Bernhard, and by both parents and her three siblings, as well as her beloved guide dogs, Axel and Tamari. Please join us in a Celebration of Joan's Life on Sunday August 21st from 2 to 4pm in the parlor at the Center Congregational Church, 193 Main St. Brattleboro, Vt. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Brattleboro Area Hospice (brattleborohospice.org) and Guide Dogs for the Blind (guidedogsfortheblind.org).
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Aug. 13, 2016
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