Carmel, CA – Bernie was born in Brooklyn, NY to Abram and Dora Furman at the inception of the Great Depression. Having seen the economic difficulties it caused, he determined at a very young age to rise above them by becoming a lawyer. He did so on scholarships from NYU and its Law School, graduating when 22 years old with a BA, an LLB and later an LLM. Within just a few years, Bernie attained his original goal of becoming a litigation lawyer with a prominent Manhattan law firm. |
Then his career took a sharp turn when he won a case against a much older lawyer who was also running a business. By then, Bernie had concluded that the real action was in business and corporate law, so when his former adversary offered him a partnership, Bernie accepted. They were together for 24 years on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, developing a very profitable practice. Along the way, Bernie started helping people form their own business in which he usually had a small interest. Eventually he was on more than 12 boards in diverse fields. The most exciting (and most expensive) was being co-owner of the horse which won the featured horse race on opening night in 1976 of the Meadowlands Race Track in New Jersey before 40,000 cheering fans.
Bernie's career took another sharp turn when one of the companies he helped start became very successful and asked him to come in as a Senior Executive Officer. Bernie declined saying that they could not afford him. Two years later, their sales had skyrocketed and they were on the New York Stock Exchange. They made Bernie an offer he couldn't refuse and literally overnight he went from being a partner in a small law firm to Vice-Chairman second in command in a large firm. When the company was acquired by Unisys in February of 1988, Bernie invoked the early retirement provisions of his contract and at the age of 58 was no longer required to work for a living.
For the next 25 years, Bernie donated his time and efforts in working for non-profit organizations. On the East Coast, he was President for 16 years of the Galaxy Towers, the largest condominium in the New York metropolitan area. The sale of the company happily coincided with Bernie, who was a widower, meeting Judy. In 1999, they moved to Hollister, California, Judy's birthplace. While living there, Bernie became President of the Community Foundation for San Benito County, a position he held for nine years. During that period, Bernie and Judy moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea where both became active volunteers for Pacific Repertory Theatre with Bernie serving as President of the Board for five years.
When he retired from that position, Bernie found that he finally had the time for projects that he had wanted to work on for several years. First, under the slogan "Have Guitar, Will Travel", he developed a program in which he sang and told the stories behind our five most favorite patriotic songs which he performed gratis for many local organizations. He then wrote a book about his father, "Pop and Me", followed by a play called "Welcome to the Catskills" which was performed in Carmel-by-the-Sea three times in front of full houses and received rave reviews. Starting in August 2013, he had been writing a weekly humor column entitled "Marriage Can Be Funny" for the Cedar Street Times of Pacific Grove.
Bernie is survived by his loving wife of nearly 25 years, Judy; his son, Keith (Ashrita); son, Brandon and daughter-in-law, Bonnie; his stepdaughter, Michelle Rubino, her husband, Vincent, and son, Jack; his brother, Murray and sister-in-law, Sylvia; his niece, Fran Karliner and her husband, Gideon; his great-niece, Danielle Karliner; his great-niece, Ilana Eichinger and her husband, Jack; his sister-in-law, Sally Tiffany, and brother-in-law, Bill; his nephew, Jon Tiffany; his nephew, Chris Tiffany and wife, Kim; his niece, Sara Tiffany; his grandchildren, Gracelynn, Starr and Bliss Furman; his former wife, Jessie Brownstein; and his beloved pets, Max The Cat and Gracie The Puppy. Bernie was preceded in death by his wife of seven years, Kathleen Bodichon Furman, who passed away in 1987.
Thank you to all of our family and friends for their love and support. Also, thank you to the nurses of Hospice of the Central Coast and the caregivers of Abundant Personal Care Service for their compassionate care.
A Celebration of Bernie's Life will be held at the La Playa Hotel in Carmel by-the-Sea on Sunday, June 1, 2014 from 3:00 to 5:00pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a memorial donation in Bernie's name to Pacific Repertory Theatre, P.O. Box 222035, Carmel, CA 93922. Please visit www.thepaulmortuary.com to sign Bernie's guest book and leave messages for his family.
Published in The Monterey Herald on May 9, 2014