Bernard (Bernie) Abrams, a decorated World War II officer, entrepreneur, merchant CEO, and philanthropist died on November 29th at the age of 90. Born in Brooklyn, NY on Valentine’s Day in 1920, Bernie moved to Connecticut as a young man, graduated from Bentley Accounting School, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant Navigator. Flying a B 17 bomber called the “Flak Alley,” Bernie received the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing 33 missions over enemy territory. He also took part in the D Day invasion and received the Purple Heart for bravery and heroism after he was wounded in a bombing run over the Romanian Ploesti oil fields.
After the War, Bernie returned to Hartford where he married Jane Wiesen and began his career as a merchant retailer. Starting with a single store in Hartford, Connecticut, he expanded to a chain of leased discount department stores and ultimately a large national chain of specialty home furnishings stores called Three D Bed and Bath and Linens Plus. In 1982, Bernie moved to Laguna Hills, California as the company expanded rapidly in the West Coast.
Bernie worked as hard on charitable endeavors as he did on business and served on the boards of the American Jewish Committee and the Orange County Jewish Federation. A highlight was leading a delegation to the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope. In 1998, Bernie retired from his company, but continued to lead a vigorous life working on investments and projects aimed at improving the economy and providing jobs for Americans.
Bernie was devoted to his family throughout his life and is greatly missed by his wife of 65 years, Jane, son Don Abrams, daughters Jodi Seaver, Betsy Abrams, Wendy Bassell, Diane Abrams and his 10 grandchildren as well as their extended family and friends.