George Delimir Bernhardt (born Delimir Georg Bernhardt), 87, of Naples, Florida, passed away on February 28, 2023, after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. George was born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia & Herzegovina) to Anton Bernhardt and Olga Truhar Bernhardt shortly before the start of World War II. His comfortable childhood ended suddenly during the war when the family was forced to flee Yugoslavia due to their German heritage. After a three month train voyage the family arrived in Poland where they stayed for about a year before again moving to western Germany near the French border, and then to a refugee camp in Bayreuth, Bavaria. After his father was killed in the war his mother was able to reach family in the United States who sponsored them to immigrate to the United States. George settled in Paterson, New Jersey, with his mother and older brother Tony, where George quickly caught up on several years of school missed at the end of the war. After graduating from Paterson Technical and Vocational High School focusing on drafting, George joined the US Marine Corps where he used his drafting skills as a cartographer, primarily at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. After initially thinking he would be a career Marine, he decided to leave to attend college to become an engineer.
Shortly after leaving the Marine Corps he was introduced to Carolina Fonte by a mutual friend. He quickly fell in love and he and Carolina were married in August 1961. During their honeymoon in Miami they took a day cruise to the Bahamas. On their return a joking customs agent told them that George, having been born in Yugoslavia, could not reenter the US without a passport (which was not needed for US citizens). Carolina quickly made it clear that he was not at all funny. After their honeymoon George & Carolina returned to Paterson, NJ, where George was studying electrical engineering at New York Institute of Technology, and Carolina was working to support him and their family as their first son, George Paul, was born during his last year of college. After graduating from NY Institute of Technology, George started his engineering career at Anaconda Wire & Cable Company in Sycamore, Illinois, where his second son, Ken, was born. After two years George was offered a transfer back to New York, which he quickly accepted, happy to be reunited with both sides of the family in New Jersey. Daughter Natalie was born a few years later. George traveled extensively with Anaconda, first around the US and later to Europe and Asia. While working in New York George and a colleague were awarded a patent for an electrical device used by Anaconda for many years. In 1980 he transferred to Anaconda's Overland Park, Kansas, office and then in 1981 he transferred back to Sycamore, Illinois, where he had started his career. Finally he was again transferred back to Kansas where he worked until the company was sold. He moved again to Panama City, Florida, to work for Wellstream in the flexible piping business before finding an opportunity to move back to New Jersey with Weber & Scher. He traveled extensively to China in the early 1990's with Weber & Scher. After retiring from Weber & Scher in 2000, George and Carolina split time between New Jersey and the Lely Resort community in Naples, Florida, for several years before moving full time to Naples.
George was very athletic growing up skiing in Germany, playing ice hockey and playing soccer on a traveling team. As an adult, however, he became passionate about tennis, which George referred to as his retirement job. George and Carolina loved playing and watching tennis. George typically played 6 days a week at the Player's Club in Lely Resort through his early 80's until Parkinson's Disease took too great a toll on his balance and movement. George remained friends with the many people he played with at Lely Resort until his death. The family wants to again thank all those friends who would regularly take him to lunch the last few years when he was confined to a wheelchair. It meant the world to him and also gave Carolina a needed break. Although he traveled many years all over the world, one of his favorite experiences was a trip to Wimbledon that his children gave him for a retirement present. He and Caroline also enjoyed watching pro tournaments in NY and Florida.
George was predeceased by his parents, Anton and Olga Bernhardt, and his brothers, Frank and wife, Wanda, and Tony and wife Rose. He was survived by his wife of 61 years, Carolina, his son George Bernhardt and wife Timi, his son Ken Bernhard and wife Julie, and his daughter Natalie DeWeese and husband Randy, as well as by grandchildren Alec Bernhardt, Caroline Bernhardt, Kenny Bernhard, Kaila Bernhard, Isabella Bernhard, Ryan Wilson and wife Lauren, and Erica Rice and husband Sean.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in the hope that one day other families will be spared the pain and suffering that Parkinson's Disease inflicted on our family. Donations in George's honor can be made at https://give.michaeljfox.org/team/486170
A funeral mass will be held on Monday April 3, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at St Peter's Catholic Church, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, FL 34113.
Burial will be at 1:00 pm on Tuesday April 4,2023, at Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72, Sarasota, FL 34241, https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/sarasota.asp
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