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Contributed by Mike and Donna
Bernd and Joan came into our lives when they were moving down to the Lake Chapala area of Mexico, near Guadalajara. Originally they were planning to stay at our independent living apartments for a short time until they found a more permanent situation, but fortunately for us, they stayed for a year before they moved into their own lovely home in Ajijic.
Their time with us was so enjoyable. Bernd would come to dinner, and say hello to his special friend Laura, a German-born lady, in her 90’s, with the heart of a teenager! Both of them would greet each other formally, in German, and had an instant connection from their common childhoods. It was always fun to see them together chatting animatedly.
Bernd was the epitome of a “gentle-man”, always greeting everyone with his beaming smile, with those shining eyes that radiated such love and joy. He always made each person feel so special, asking us about our lives, our days, and being an amazing host as well as making people feel very comfortable around him. In the year we lived together I don’t think I ever saw him upset or down or having a bad day.
He was so kind-hearted and soft spoken, he would draw those of us around him, into his circle of warmth and truly brightened our lives. When Bernd and Joan moved to their own home, they continued to contribute to the community around them and commissioned an amazing mural on the outside walls of their home, they built a sidewalk down the street near their home so that residents and vendors could easily walk the block to the malecon (boardwalk along the lake) and they contributed to many many charities in the area, as well as made it possible for those close to them, to take business opportunities and to expand their options for education and future success. Generosity is truly something I remember Bernd (and Joan) for. It is one of those hidden legacies, that they have changed and enriched many of the lives of those they helped and contributed to.
When I reflect on Bernd and think about him, so many beautiful things come to mind. He reminded me of a noble European aristocrat, with the twinkle in his eye of the Latin Lover! Bernd, thank you for brightening my life and for sharing the joy of the journey while you were here in Mexico with us. We love and miss you! You have left behind a legacy and touched us with your warmth, love, and caring spirit. May you rest in peace after living such a full and rich life!
Contributed by Jean Foss (namesake of Jean Crasemann)
Bernd was truly an amazing friend and mentor and I’ve never met anyone quite like him. He was such an intellectual giant, yet never showed any sign of condescension to those around him. Instead he took delight in people’s individuality, and showed nothing but love, patience and a wonderful sense of humor to everyone who came into his life.
I will miss him, but Bernd will always live on in my heart and memories. Such a truly dear and funny man is unforgettable, and I was so lucky to have him in my life.
Contributed by Joan Machlis-Crasemann
The University of Oregon Physics Department sent to Joan a sympathy card with inscriptions from department members.
Contributed by Park and Carol Cann
We came to know Bernd through Joan, our dear friend. Unfortunately, we only knew Bernd for about the last 8 years of his life. Park had the privilege of officiating at Bernd and Joan’s wedding. It was a lovely occasion. Bernd loved Joan deeply.
In our short time with Bernd, we came to know him as a loving, gracious, generous, appreciative, serene, intelligent man, albeit one with an expertise and renown in a subject matter we know nothing about. Bernd was a great role model for others and we feel like we are better for knowing him.
*Click on photo above to view in larger size
Contributed by George Basbas, Editor, Physical Review Letters
I first met Bernd in 1961, but he didn’t meet me then. I took my first quantum mechanics course then from his book with John Powell. This experience marked me for life with a fascination for the subject which I learned to share with Bernd personally when he became Editor for Physical Review A. Guided by his demands that papers on quantum mechanics involve real physics, I tried hard to establish similar standards as an Editor for Physical Review Letters, but I found that Bernd was a lot tougher than I.
But together we rode herd on cats in their many manifestations in physics. I recall a sign in Bill Phillips’ lab at NIST: Curiosity-driven research killed Schroedinger’s cat. Well, let me tell you that Bernd had a lot to do with it. We will miss his strong hand, always applied in the most graceful manner. Working with him in the editorial enterprise for these many years has been a source of wisdom, pleasure, and reward for me. We all will miss him very much.
Contributed by Margaret Malloy
I worked with Bernd for over 14 years when he was the Lead Editor for Physical Review A. I was the Managing Editor working out of the Ridge Editorial Office. The first time I met Bernd, I was extremely intimidated. He seemed to demand a lot of people, but I came to realize that it was really that he demanded a lot of himself. He was brilliant, charming, witty, entertaining, and always a gentle man. During the many physics conferences we attended, he made time to share at least one breakfast with me. In spite of all his commitments and demands on his time, we would languish over the meal, while he would tell tales of growing up and his love of physics. I don’t think I have ever learned so much that early in the morning.
When attending meetings, we developed a routine where, for at least one evening, the “A Team” (as we came to be called), would gather around Bernd for dinner. Although there was some talk of physics, it was often just a wonderful bonding experience that became tradition.
When Bernd retired, I kept in touch with him. One year, the March meeting convened in Oregon. I decided to drive to where Bernd was living to visit. At that time, he was residing in a senior housing complex outside of Eugene. Bernd showed me around, and remarked how he didn’t go to the common room all that often since that was where the “older folks gathered to play games that he was far too young to play. “I recall at that time he was around 83 years old. Then he insisted we go for a walk. Although Bernd walked with a cane, I had difficulty keeping up with him. He asked if I wanted to do “one more loop around.” I had a hard time answering since I was out of breath from keeping pace with him.
Bernd had incredibly high standards that contributed to the success of Physical Review A. The journal owes him a great deal of gratitude as do I. He was a true friend who was always ready to listen and offer sage advice. Like so many others, I will miss him, but I feel fortunate to have been a part of his life.
Contributed by Joan Machlis-Crasemann
Of course, I have hundreds of memories but here are a few that are so “Bernd” I wanted to share them with all of you.
I didn’t learn anything about Physics from Bernd that I know of EXCEPT — one day I asked him how it could be that I loved him so much. He said it was due to an impedance match.
Bernd liked time and directions. When he moved to Seattle he had 7 clocks in his bedside table. He loved to orient himself with paper maps.
How many of you now know how to make an Oppenheimer Martini (which Bernd had every day until a year ago)? For those who don’t know the story, Oppenheimer insisted on making his own martini at a gathering at Bernd and Jean’s home on Parkside. The awestruck crowd watched as the master mixed gin and vermouth.
As a feminist I cringed at first with Bernd’s many nicknames. But, after a while, being told you are loved dozens of times a day and even being called “Bunny”, “Mousetrap”, “Fluffy” “Osita” “Mijita” and “Bear” and “Osa” all the time—well it really grows on a person. By the way, two of the stranger nicknames were “Mouseplate” and something that sounded like Bacon. I think it was a word in German but I can’t figure it out.
As Bernd’s dementia progressed he became even funnier. For some strange reason he had socks marked “L” and “R”. One day I got them wrong and this was distressing to him. As he looked down at his feet with alarm for having two left feet he also (because his feet were not reaching the floor) complained that his feet were too short now.
Bernd took his dementia in stride. He spoke of his “leaking brain” and sometimes explained his memory was not that good anymore.
It didn’t seem to distress him.
Can we all be so lucky?
Contributed by Francesco (Frank) Narducci
It was with great sadness that I learned of his passing. He was the lead editor for PRA when I joined the team, and he was the one who was willing to give me a chance at the editorial life (which I now have done for PRA for more than 20 years). In this day and age of electronic communication, I learned so much from him even though we physically overlapped very little. I l learned not only much about being an editor, but (and more importantly) how to handle being an editor firmly yet being a gentleman at all times.
My father, who also was an editor for PRA for I believe 11 years, also had very very high regard for Bernd (and he wasn’t easy to impress) and if he were still here, I have no doubt he also would be sharing fond memories of Bernd.
Francesco (Frank) Narducci
Associate Professor-Naval Postgraduate School
Associate Editor Physical Review A
Adjunct Associate Editor Physical Review Letters
Contributed by Jonathan Widney (Bernd’s stepson and son of Pat)
Bernd was a remarkable man, who was remarkably easy to love. He was a gentleman at all times, with a ready smile and twinkling eyes. I believe he had a very unique ability to make those in his company feel at ease and comfortable. He knew how to flatter, how to flirt and how to care. He made time for people and he had a sense of humor that never left him. Finally, he was a genteel person who knew how much a kind word, or quick smile could impact someone. I will miss him, but will always be grateful for the time he was in my life. If ever someone deserves a fair wind and following sea, it is Bernd. His legacy lives on in the memories of all those who had the good fortune to cross his path.