Dr. Robert Linn Bernhardt III died peacefully at home on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, after a year-long battle with cancer. A funeral service will be held today at 2 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Greenville, with the Rev. Jill Beimdiek officiating. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Pine Hill Cemetery in Burlington,.
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Bob was born on April 28, 1939, in Salisbury to the late Robert L. Bernhardt Jr. and Edna Hethcox Bernhardt. He graduated from Boyden High School in 1957, where he was a member of the basketball team; from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his B.S. and M.A. degrees in mathematics; and from the University of Oregon, where he earned his Ph.D., also in mathematics, with a focus on algebra.
Bob demonstrated outstanding commitment to high quality science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education over a career spanning forty-three years. He was a mathematics professor for 29 years and a department chair for 17 years at East Carolina University (ECU). A gifted teacher and administrator, he was also interim chair of the computer science department at ECU for six years. Before joining the faculty at ECU in 1983, Bob was mathematics department chair and faculty member at Chicago State University from 1974-1982, and an assistant professor in the mathematics department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 1968-1974. Before his retirement this year, he was a member of the Mathematical Association of America, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and Pi Mu Epsilon honorary national mathematics society.
For decades Bob devoted faculty time, classroom availability, and both financial and staff support for the ECU Math Contest for high school and middle grades students throughout eastern North Carolina. Bob initiated the North Carolina Early Mathematics Placement Testing (NC EMPT) Program, which fosters continued mathematics preparation among high school students by allowing them to take a sample collegiate placement exam. The results of this exam let students avoid remedial mathematics by learning, without penalty, how they would fare on a real placement exam. This test is given, free of cost, to 40,000 to 50,000 high school students in North Carolina annually. From 1996 until his retirement in 2012, he served as director of this program.
Bob was an avid student of U.S. Civil War history, and enjoyed with his wife, Judy, visiting historic sites where he sometimes gave lectures. He appreciated listening to classical music all his life, and enjoyed attending concerts with his daughter, Lydian. A fervent Tar Heel and Pirate sports fan, he was a regular at football and basketball games, and until the past year, he was actively engaged in his greatest interest, teaching.
Bob is survived by his wife, Judy, of the home; daughter, Lydian Bernhardt Averitt and husband, Phillip, of Greensboro; son, William H. Brande and Jenny Batchler, of Greenville; grandchildren, Caroline and Payton Averitt.
Memorial contributions may be made to the ECU Medical and Health Science Foundation, Attn: Leo Jenkins Family Assistance Program, 525 Moye Blvd., Greenville, NC 27834.
Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Daily Reflector on Dec. 5, 2012