by Eric Oszustowicz
Bernard Linder (Bernie to his many friends) passed away on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. He was a truly decent human being and his passing was a great loss to all of us. He was 99.
Bernie joined the ERA in 1961. Most ERA members know him through his hundreds of articles that appeared in each edition of the ERA’s monthly Bulletin over the 37 years he was editor-in-chief. Others lucky enough to know Bernie personally also knew him as a true gentleman who was always willing to share his knowledge. He was always kind hearted, generous and humble. He never raised his voice in anger. Bernie was always looking forward to the future, even at 99 years of age. At the time of his passing, he was planning years of written projects.
Bernie was a living encyclopedia. He recalled information and experiences from the 1930s to the present in equal, vivid detail. To the very end, Bernie was sharing his knowledge in writing with ERA members and in person to his friends who frequently visited his Brooklyn home.
What Bernie wrote over the years was only a portion of his true knowledge. Much of his writing was based on actual life experiences dating back to the 1930s, so unfortunately, this personal knowledge is lost forever. Through many visits, many of his friends and I listened to his fascinating stories of the past. During the past 10 to 15 years, Bernie was generally confined to his home due to various health issues. He stated that the highlight of his day occurred when people visited him. It was also a highlight of the day for his visitors. Thankfully, Bernie’s devoted son Larry was always there to care for him.
Through Bernard Linder, many of us have been educated in the history of New York City-area mass transit. Bernie understood that he was not immortal, so he planned long ago to pass on the priceless documents which were the basis of much of his writings. His legacy will continue for years to come as a result. Production of the ERA’s “The Elevated Railways of Manhattan” would have been impossible without Bernie. The upcoming Brooklyn version of this work would also have been impossible.
Bernie was truly irreplaceable. We all will miss the company of our dear friend.