It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of an original Juniper Park Civic Association member and neighborhood icon, Carl Berner. Mr. Berner, as he was always fondly referred to, had a long and productive life and he left us on January 7, 2013 at the age of 110. He would have been 111 on January 27, 2013.
Carl Berner was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1902 and his parents died when he was just a toddler. He lived with grandparents during his childhood and in 1928 he immigrated to the United States. His eyes always brightened when he would vividly recall his first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as the ship he was on, the Bremen ocean liner, arrived in New York Harbor. In 1936, he met and married the “love of his life” Margaret (deceased), and their only child, Emily, was born on September 23, 1943.
In the height of the Depression, Carl became an entrepreneur and opened a toy-making business, initially metal toys, and later plush animals, teddy bears, and dolls. He labored sixteen hours a day to design his own toy collection. His dolls became collector's items. His toy-making expertise was in demand by larger business concerns, and he was invited to train younger workers in the industry, until his retirement.
In 1938, Mr. and Mrs. Berner bought their first home in Middle Village for the grand sum of $5,190.00. They immediately became members of the Eliot Avenue Civic Association, which was the precursor of the Juniper Park Civic Association. For 62 years, Carl Berner participated in civic activities in our community, always working to make sure our streets were kept clean.
At a Juniper Park Civic Association Town Meeting in 2004, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DOS) honored Carl Berner for his lifetime of service to the city of New York. He was presented with the “Partner in a Cleaner New York Certificate of Appreciation.” This award is presented to individuals who play an active and prominent leadership role in maintaining the cleanliness of their communities.
How can we effectively summarize a life of hard work and always giving back to the community for almost 111 years? We can’t, but we can pay tribute to a man who will be remembered for many years to come as a hard working immigrant from Germany who came to our great country and seized the opportunity to spend his entire life always helping his neighbors until the very end. Rest in peace, Carl Berner, you made your mark and you will be sorely missed.