Joel C. Bernard

Joel C. BernardJoel Cosby Bernard, Jr., entered the gates of Heaven Jan. 24, 2020, after a long battle with pneumonia. He was 82.

He was a beloved husband and father, and we will miss him dearly.

He was born to Edwarda Iva (Smith) Bernard and Joel C. Bernard Sr. in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, 1938. He had seven brothers and a sister. In 1943, when the Naval Ordnance Test Station at China Lake was being built, the Bernards became one of the early families in Ridgecrest. Like all the boys in the family, he repaired cars in his father’s business, Precision Auto Shop.

He attended Burroughs High School, where he played basketball on the A Squad for the 1955 CIF championship, but lost to Morningside. He played on the Ridgecrest softball team with his brother Wendell, and in the 1970s he was pitcher on the local Texas Instruments softball team.

Bernard attended the University of Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oklahoma City University. He earned a master’s in education from Chapman College in Orange County. In his early career, he worked in data processing at Aero Science, and he worked with the Chaparral surface-to-air missile system on the range of China Lake.

He later worked at American Potash and Chemical Company in Trona. After changing careers to teaching, he taught U.S. History, World History, Language Arts and the Chess & Game Theory elective at James Monroe Jr. High. He later taught the 5th and 6th grades. Throughout the 1970s he was an avid member of the China Lake Chess Club. Bernard and his chess students competed in many chess tournaments throughout California.

Bernard had wide interests including education, the law and foreign languages. He had a deep knowledge of history and politics. His personal library numbered in the hundreds of volumes. He read every one of them. He was deeply concerned about the central question of his lifetime: will the world’s future be freedom or Communism? His discussions often drew from information contained in “all the books you have to read to be considered educated” in a classical liberal education.

We arranged his vast library by the Dewey Decimal System and found that his interests were remarkably balanced, with a similar number of books in each of the 10 classification groups. He spoke French, read Latin, and if he could also read Greek, he would be a Renaissance man.

In the early 1960s he enjoyed building large telescopes with six-inch mirrors and much bigger. We cherish the memories of viewing the night sky with Dad (especially Jupiter by telescope) and learning the constellations. His interest in astronomy inspired his children during the era of the Apollo missions to the moon. We also enjoyed camping and fishing with Dad. Fishing trips rarely brought back any fish, but the memories will live on for us!

He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Marguerite Beverly Bernard; children, Dr. Mark (Tanya) Bernard of San Diego, David in Ridgecrest and Francis (Doreen) Bernard of Dana Point; brother, Lucius (Phyllis) Bernard, Esq.; grandchildren Amy, Justin, Caroline and Allan Bernard of San Diego and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his mother and father, son Stephen Bernard, sister Margaret Starkey and brothers Edward, Charles, Carl, Kelly, Ralph and Wendell Bernard.

Visitation will be at the H.K. Holland Memorial Chapel on Friday, Feb. 14, from 5-8 p.m. Memorial services will be held Saturday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m at the chapel. Graveside services will follow at Desert Memorial Park. A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge.

— Submitted by the family of Joel Bernard

Story First Published: 2020-02-07