Lawrence J. "Jerry" Bernhardt Sr.

Obituary
13 entries
  • "Many years ago, I had the privilege of working with Jerry..."
    - Melodee Schultz
  • "For me and my family, being in the presence of the..."
    - John Wong
  • "I remember Mr and Mrs Bernhardt. I grew up down the street...."
    - Lisa Reynolds
  • "I have many fond memories that involve Jerry and Jean..."
  • "Jerry had a serious side and a funny side. He was a good..."
    - Don Buckalew
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Lawrence J. "Jerry" Bernhardt, Sr., born Oct. 17, 1927 died peacefully at home on Aug. 14, 2015 in Fairhope, Ala, surrounded by his family.

Born in Fairhope, Ala., Jerry was a U.S. Navy sailor during WWII, an avid golfer, sailor, and a loving father, grandfather and, great-grandfather.

As a child, his family was separated due to economic hardships during the Great Depression; the greatest joy and, proudest accomplishment of his adult life was providing for his five children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

From humble beginnings, he lifted himself up his entire life. At a young age, he answered his country's call, lying about his age and, at 16 became a sailor in the United States Navy during World War II, part of our "Greatest Generation." This became one of the proudest moments of his life; wearing the uniform of his country. Almost sixty years later, he participated in an Honor Flight to Washington, DC to visit the World War II memorial on the mall in Washington. Upon their return to Alabama, Jerry and all the veterans were greeted by a cheering crowd and, thousands of letters from Alabama schoolchildren acknowledging their gratitude for what these veterans had done for their country.

After his discharge and return home to Fairhope, Alabama, he provided for his family by first working as a salesman for Sessions School Day Peanut Butter Company. Soon he would return to sea as a Purser on a cruise ship line sailing the Caribbean where he first began to put his people skills to work. It was a fun job, but he missed his family too much and, decided to move to Houston, Texas in 1959. He started his career in Texas as a used car salesman, working with his wife's brother George. In 1962, always looking to work hard and reach for new opportunities, he moved his family to Conroe, where he worked as a salesman at the new Buick and Pontiac dealership.

Jerry's charisma, charm and humility coupled with the personal care he took of every customer in the car dealership caught the eye of a local banker, Seth Dorbandt. Seth started him in his next career, banking. Rising from most junior loan officer through the ranks, Jerry's personality and integrity spread beyond Conroe. He ended up working with many of the NASA astronauts who circled and later landed on the moon. He attended several of the Apollo moon launches as their guest. After years of success, he was asked to head a new bank in Conroe where he served as President and Chairman of the Board of the new enterprise. He would end his banking career working with the same man who got him into banking, Seth Dorbandt.

Jerry loved Conroe and its surrounding community. He volunteered for many boards, among them, the Conroe Regional Airport Authority, Montgomery County Hospital Board, the Montgomery County Fair, and many others. He even served a term as president of the Conroe Noon's Lion's Club where he was a proud member throughout his tenure in Conroe.

Retiring in 1988, he and his wife returned to their hometown of Fairhope, Alabama.

Jerry felt the blessings of family and community and tried his whole life to give back to both. When his grandchildren began to come along, his children lived close enough so that for many Christmases, all the presents were opened together at their home on Oaklawy in Conroe. Having his children and grandchildren gathered around him was THE proudest and most joy-filled moments of his life.

On August 17, Jerry's remains were put to rest at the ConfederateRestCemetery, which lies next to the 18th green at Lake Wood Country Club in Point Clear Alabama. As a teenager he worked on the construction of the Lakewood golf course. Head Golf Pro Andy Mortimer used to have to go get Jerry out of bed to work on the construction of the new greens. Jerry used to say he wanted to be buried near the green of the18th hole. Today, sadly, his final wish has been granted.

Jerry Bernhardt was a unique individual, he was a good boy who for the most part was homeless, a fine young Navy man, an incredible businessman who knew the true meaning of honesty and integrity, a giver to the community of Conroe, a great sailor and an average golfer. His greatest golf fear was being beaten by Lester Hoke at the annual Conroe Country Club Invitational. Mostly, he was the best Dad in all the world.

Predeceased by his sister Rae Jackson, he will be incredibly missed by his loving wife Jean of sixty-six years, sister Jeanne Holobaugh, his best friend Pete Palmer, his five children Anita Cowles, Rosemary Lambert, Michael (Bimbo) Bernhardt, Barre Bernhardt, Jerry Bernhardt Jr., eleven beautiful grandchildren and five delightful great grandchildren.


Published on yourconroenews.com from Aug. 21 to Sept. 3, 2015
bullet U.S. Navy bullet World War II