Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bernie Stopper

Bernie Stopper passed away yesterday at Hospice in The Villages, FL. He leaves his wife Nonie, daughter Robin, and son Doug, plus an unlimited number of friends from New York (IBM/Lockheed Owego, where he was my second-best manager :^) and Florida (The Villages, where he was my second-best friend and bicycling/kayaking companion :^). He will be missed.


Vi and I loved to socialize with him and Nonie. As a manager, he exhibited the very best of traditional IBM ethics and thoughtfulness for his employees, plus unparalleled competence and thoroughness in all aspects of avionics engineering management and business planning. Here in The Villages, he leaves his mark as webmaster for the Village Bicycle Club site and for the "We Bike for Kids" charity, and as a great friend to so many of us.

I've been looking through my photo collection and found several that should be of interest to those of you who knew Bernie.

However, I noticed that, more often than not, it was Bernie who unselfishly took the photos of me and others at interesting events, rather than hog the spotlight.

In 1997, Bernie and Nonie hosted Vi and me at their cottage on Cayuga Lake. Fun, food and friendship was the rule.


We stopped at a British Pub on our Business trip to England (with Software Engineer, Sherry  Ives).

London Underground.


Kayaking in Florida.

Bernie took this photo of me very close to what we originally thought was a fake plastic 8-foor gator.

Well, it turned out to be real.

Read about it here: HERE!


In September 2011, Bernie and I (along with Jerry Bauer and other members of the Village Bicycle Club) did a wonderful Belgian Bicycle Barge trip from Brussels to Bruges.

Here, Bernie stands alongside our barge, the "Magnifique". There were about 20 of us, all from our club, plus an attentive crew of four, one of whom guided on our daily cycling trips.

Below, with Jerry and a not-so-private moment in Ghent.

We slept on the barge for a week, eating breakfast each morning and packing a lunch for our bicycle trip to the next port, generally about 30 miles. The cycling included stops at historic and scenic places. We'd meet the barge at the next port, enjoy a great dinner prepared and served by the crew, and repeat the process the following day.


The most recent photo I have of Bernie is from this 2014 visit by Charlie and Sara Porterfield to The Villages, FL.

From Left: Charles and Sara Porterfield, Vi and Ira Glickstein, Lee and Maureen Danielson, BERNIE, Nan and Lloyd Smith.

(Nonie is missing because she took the picture!)


Everyone who knew Bernie, even casually, will miss him. His can-do attitude and helpfulness was positively contagious.

I, especially, will miss him. Until several months ago, Bernie was a stronger cyclist than me, even trying to keep up with our friend (and Owego colleague) Garf Cooper. Yet, he patiently bicycled with me, often two or more times a week. My Parkinson's Disease has taken a toll on my balance, and I often dismount when we have to cross a major intersection or make a sharp turn. It takes me a while to get going again, sometimes walking the bicycle to a level or downhill grade.

Yet, until several months ago, Bernie would show up at Freedom Pointe at 7:20AM on most Tuesdays and cycle up to the Springdale Pool to meet Jerry Bauer and others for our regular cycling tour of the Marion County part of The Villages, and up to the Mulberry Recreation Center pool, where I would do my deep water aerobics. He'd also meet me (and Jerry) at Mulberry at 10am on most Saturdays for our ride to Paneras in the Spanish Plaines Town Center, where we'd meet the "real bicyclists" (who took  more strenuous trips to our common destination) and enjoy coffee and sweet rolls. He'd also join me and a Freedom Pointe friend for our easy 8-mile trip starting around 11am Wednesdays.

Until Vi and I moved to Freedom Pointe, in 2012, I owned a kayak and Bernie and I would regularly paddle with The Villages Canoe and Kayak Club, or do trips on our own.

It was also our pleasure to host Bernie and Nonie for dinner at Freedom Pointe and to join them for meals at local restaurants (especially the "Bang-Bang Shrimp" at Bonefish Grill). We attended meetings of the Village Bicycle Club, the Science-Tech Club, and the Vestal-Apalachin Club.

Every time I walk down the stairs to the Freedom Pointe parking garage where I keep my bicycle, I look for Bernie where he used to wait for me.

Bernie's departure, 
for what I hope and trust
will be
 greener pastures, 
smoother roads 
and even more pleasant rivers and lakes,
 has left a big empty spot 
in my life 
and my heart 
and my soul.

Condolences to Nonie and Robin and Doug and the grandchildren from me and Vi.

Ira Glickstein

1 comment:

Ira Glickstein said...

A week before Bernie passed away he called for what turned out to be our last conversation. That day, I sent the email below to mutual friends. Some have said they found it moving. So, here is the email I wrote and sent on June, 18, 2015:

Bernie phoned me just before noon today. As we know, he is in Hospice care at his home. Hospice is wonderful and They have supplied a comfortable bed (not a full-fledged hospital bed, but very suitable). He said he is weak and it is likely he will never get out of that bed.

He said Nonie is accepting the situation very well and she will be OK. Their son and daughter are there.

He sounded a bit weak, but his voice was strong and clear and kind and thoughtful as ever. Like the great engineer he is, he is firmly tuned to reality, and accepts that the situation is as it is.

Bernie thanked me and Vi for being such good friends and I returned the complement and said how much I miss him now that he is no longer one of my main bicycle riding companions.

Bernie was my second-best :^) manager at IBM, and a great friend during our working years. He and Nonie graciously hosted Vi and me at their cottage on a Finger Lake and I recall how when we arrived a grumpy animated face on their door made us jump with its loud "What are you doing here." Greeting.

I'll remember our business trips forever, particularly our trip to Farnsworth in England, and how, when our return flight was delayed for some hours, we two (along with a female software engineer whose name I can't recall) took a bus from the airport into a nearby town, Staines, and we walked around and had lunch. I still have a bicycle horn we purchased there that sounds like the ooh-haa of a British taxi horn.

After retirement and their move to The Villages our families socialized and he and I bicycled and kayaked together quite often. Until several months ago, he was a stronger cyclist than me, even trying to keep up with Garf. Several years ago we went on a wonderful Bike-Barge adventure from Brussels to Bruges in Belgium.

On a couple of our kayaking trips here in Central Florida we encountered alligators. On one memorable trip someone pointed us to a cove along the Rainbow River and told us there was an eight-foot gator on land there at waters edge. We paddled over and I was convinced it was a plastic fake because the Rainbow River is so clear that there are no gators in it. I paddled within about ten feet of the Thing and Bernie took a great photo of me with it.

We continued up-river to our goal, the State Park. On our way back, one of our companions who had not seen the "fake" gator asked us to show it to him. So, we paddled into the cove, and were quite surprised when the gator, quite real, lifted its head and turned towards us!

On another paddle we saw a five-foot gator at waters edge and I asked Bernie to go closer and take a photo. As he readied his camera and pointed it towards the gator, it dove into the water and made a bee-line towards his kayak. Well, Bernie did not get that photo and I was disappointed. I said that he should have stood his ground and taken the photo, and if anything had happened, I would have gone back and retrieved the camera!

Vi and are indeed fortunate to be friends of Bernie and Nonie. We are thankful for the extended visit we had with them several weeks ago, around midday on the day when a few dozen bicyclists from both bike clubs had made a group visit that morning.

May God (however we conceive that Entity) Bless good family and friends and companions and colleagues. Family and Friends are what makes life worth living. And, the End of Life is as much a part of Life to be embraced as the Beginning.

Love to all.

Ira (and Vi)