UH community remembers Pete Bernardo

The late Pete Bernardo, pictured at University Heights' Memorial Day Ceremony in 2019.

For decades, Pete Bernardo dedicated his life to his country, his community, and to John Carroll University (JCU). Bernardo died on May 14, at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife, JoAnne, and three sons.

“To describe the loss of Pete Bernardo and what he meant to this community is almost beyond words,” University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said. “He was a model of service and dedication to our community and to our country. All of us who worked with him are honored to have done so.”

A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Bernardo was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and three Purple Hearts for his heroic efforts in the line of duty for the U.S. Army. 

Bernardo helped plan, coordinate, and negotiate the configuration management, product assurance, and safety plans for a $164-million research-and-development test program designed to produce and test the free world’s only non-nuclear antiballistic missile system.

Following a distinguished 20-year military career, Bernardo served in a variety of roles at JCU, including director of alumni relations (1988–1997), director of advancement services (1998–2000), and director of planned giving (2001­­–2007). Most recently, Bernardo was senior director of philanthropic relations.

Upon receiving JCU’s 2016 Alumni Medal, Bernardo explained his dedication to service. “There are just some things that have to be done,” he said, “and someone needs to do it.”

Bernardo was active in many activities at JCU and in Greater Cleveland. He staffed the chain crew at JCU football games, and mentored ROTC cadets on campus. He was one of Santa’s helpers, dressing up as Santa Claus for JCU’s annual Breakfast with Santa event for more than 20 years.

Bernardo also served on University Heights City Council, 2007-2009. He helped organize the University Heights Memorial Day Parade and ceremony for 30-plus years.

“My heart hurts over this. I first met Pete in 1991 when I transferred to Carroll, and loved him immediately,” said Rachel Mullen, executive assistant and special projects coordinator for University Heights. “I was thrilled to work with him again on the 2019 parade. We all experienced his kind heart and generous spirit firsthand.”

Brennan said planning for the city’s Memorial Day Ceremony and the parade (usually held on Memorial Day, but rescheduled this year for July 4) will be emotional. “This will be the first time in over 30 years we are doing these community events without him,” Brennan said. “He will be in our hearts and minds, never more so than this year as we do these things in memory of Pete.”

[Portions of this article were adapted, with permission, from a JCU press release.]

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement coordinator for University Heights.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 10:25 AM, 05.25.2021