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AJ Bernard Obituary

Brought to you by Jowdy Kane Funeral Home

AJ Bernard

Danbury, Connecticut

August 16, 1936 - June 14, 2024

AJ Bernard Obituary

Alfred James Bernard, aka AJ or Jim, age 87 of Danbury passed away June 14, 2024, at his daughter’s home (where he had lived since 2020), with his daughter and son by his side after a 6-month struggle with heart and kidney issues.

AJ was born August 16, 1936, on a dining room table on the corner of Main St. and West Lane in Ridgefield, CT to Alfred Everett and Eleanor Maude Bernard.

His youth was spent in the swamps and fields of Ridgefield trapping and hunting, eventually transitioning to working as golf caddy for a country club in town. He earned enough to buy his first property at the age of 15! AJ, known as Jim back then, graduated from Ridgefield High School with the class of 1954 whose class size was just 32. He was noted in his high school yearbook as “one of the quieter boys”! His hobbies were cars and boats. He placed second place in a “car rodeo.” His dream was to “own his own business” ().

AJ went to work in construction with his father in Bridgeport, embarking on the development of carpentry skills.

In addition, he joined the Army National Guard out of high school, achieving the rank of Sergeant E5, and attaining marksman on the Carbine and M1 Rifle by the end of enlistment in ’59.

He married his high school sweetheart, Alyce-Jane Thomas, on June 14,1958. They had 2 children, Allyson and Jason. After 33 years of marriage, Alyce and AJ divorced but stayed friendly and connected until Alyce’s death in 2020.

AJ was able to combine his carpentry skills and purchased property to build his first house on Hayestown Road in Danbury. This was his foray into his own construction company AJ Bernard Building & Real Estate Agency. He used the profits to invest and build on subsequent properties on Moody Drive, Danbury, and Bonnet Drive, Bethel.

In 1963, he joined the Greater Danbury Board of Realtors (now Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors). AJ’s professional career moved to concentrate on the real estate portion (residential and commercial), so he rebranded as the company as AJ Bernard Realty. He always was open to try new opportunities: Circa 1970, AJ Bernard bought a franchise of the E.R.A.(Electronic Realty Association). The focus was on a using new technology (fax machine) enabling to members to transmit pictures of properties and homes to each other.

He, with his wife and mother as operators, opened The Maternity Stop (1964-1966). AJ bought the first Re/Max franchise in Connecticut (RE/MAX Professionals: 1981-1993).

In 1993, AJ and his daughter, Allyson, opened and co-owned Real estate Professionals of CT, remaining active until his heart attack in December 2023. AJ not only served his customers but served his fellow Realtors.

Over his tenure in the Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors, he held every Board and MLS elected office except President.

He also served as chair for most every committee including Political Forums for the Public to hear State Senators and House Candidates during election time. Robert’s Rules of Order was his bible for these meetings.

He was 1995 Realtor of the Year.

From 2021-2022 he headed the NFCAR parking area expansion project which utilized the culmination of all his skills as builder, land developer and Realtor as he needed to negotiate with the state over the lease, catch subtle mistakes only an experienced eye would catch (before they became expensive to correct) and supervise the job daily. He was so proud to have accomplished this at his age. It was a source of pride every time he rode by the property.

At the state level (Connecticut Association of Realtors, now CTR), AJ served on the Board of Directors almost every year between 1960 and 2001, and again in 2016. He was on the CAR executive board Sept ’94 to Jan ’98. AJ helped establish the Commercial Investors Division (CID) (’68-’69), serving as state CID VP in ‘69 and serving as the President of the Stamford CID ’71 – ‘72. AJ was on the Executive Legislative and Political Affairs Committee ’82-’94, the Executive Legislative Steering Committee ’93 ’94, and the Realtor Services Committee ’94 to 2001. AJ taught International Real Estate at the ’99 & 2000 CAR Conventions. AJ was co-coordinator between CAR and NAR for the 1992 5TH Congressional District Political involvement in the election (a first in the northeast.) AJ was Vice-chair of the ’95 Risk Reduction, ’98 and ’99 CAR International, and 2000 Professional Standards Committees. AJ was Chair of the 2001 Professional Standards Committee.

At the national level (National Association of Realtors), AJ was involved in the Farm and Land Institute from ’68 to ’72. In ’89 and ’90 he was involved with FIABCI (Federation Internationale des Administrateurs de Bien Conseils et Immobiliers.) AJ attended most of the NAR Conventions in the 1980’s and 90’s. During the same period, AJ worked with the 5th Congressional district leaders and Congressman via NAR Washington meetings and visits on the hill. Helped develop content for the Political Action Computer Course for NAR. Past Member of the National Realtor Club and International Traders Club. First Realtor in Connecticut to have the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. Charter Member of International section (now called CIPS) in 1991. On the NAR Risk Management Committee ’95 to ’98. Chair of the Connecticut Membership committee ’94 and ’95. AJ had been certified as a Realtor active in politics since 1983. AJ had accumulated the following designations: CIPS, CRB, CRS, GRI, RMU, RECP, CRA, PSCS.

AJ believed that one should give back to the community. He served his local communities (Danbury and Bethel) through political and civic activities. In 1965, when the City of Danbury and the Town of Danbury merged, AJ was appointed to the Tax Study Committee to determine how to merge the two tax structures. AJ was Chair of the Danbury Fair Rent Commission from 1970 to 1980. Consultant to the Danbury Equal Rights Commission from 1972 to 1978. Member of the Danbury Tax Study Commission in 1974. Vice President of the State Federation of Fair Rent Associations from 1974 to 1979. In 1978,

AJ ran for the State Representative for the 110th District. In ’71 and ’81, AJ was Danbury City Constable.

In 1980, AJ was the security coordinator for Presidential Candidate George Bush’s visit to Danbury, working with the FBI, Secret Service, and State Police. In 1982 and 1986,

AJ was Coordinator for the County Sheriff election. In 1982, ‘83, AJ ran the National GOP workshop for candidates and campaign managers. AJ was appointed Fairfield County Deputy Sheriff in 1988. From ’89 to ’94, he was a member of the Danbury Airport Commission. Several appearances before State Legislative Committees, Regional Planning Commissions, Department of Environmental Protection, and Tri-state Planning Commissions to promote better laws and regulations. 8 years on the Bethel Board of Assessment Review.

In 2017, AJ ran for the Bethel Board of Finance. AJ was on the Bethel GOP Town Committee from 2009 to 2020. From 2016 to 2020,

AJ was elected Justice of the Peace. AJ also served to help raise funds for many entities, including the YMCA Building Fund (’75-81), YMCA General Fund (’88 – ’94), Regional Center Group Home Development (’75), The Salvation Army (’55 – ’60), the Children’s Miracle Network (’90 – ’94), and the Channel 8 Telethon for the Children’s Miracle Network (’91 – ’94). AJ was a guest lecturer for the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

From ’63 to ’78, AJ was a speaker in the lower schools about Real Estate, in the middle schools about investments, and to the seniors about politics in the Danbury school system. 1970 to 1985, AJ ran an educational program on Real Estate Investments and Syndication for the Bethel Public Library. 1973 – 1974,

AJ was the Director for the Grassy Plains Drum Corp in Bethel.

In 2023, he wrote an educational course for Realtors on how to navigate Town Halls and be successful in those goals. It was approved by the State of CT for CE credits after 6 months developing it (with many rewrites with Allyson’s help). It was scheduled, months in advance, for him to teach February 29th of this year. His goal after his Dec heart attack was to get up the steps of the NFCAR office and teach the course. True to form, against doctors’ wishes and most expectations, he climbed those steps and taught the three-hour course to a full room. Again, he achieved a goal he set for himself. Afterwards, when his daughter asked how it went (and if he was tired), he said, “I feel alive and invigorated.”

AJ is survived by his daughter Allyson J. Bernard-Church of Danbury, CT & Ocean City, MD (husband Bud Church); A. Jason Bernard of Waxhaw, NC (wife Esther); Grandson, Aristotle J Bernard of Waxhaw, NC; and Cousin Walter MacDonald of Nova Scotia (wife Mary).

He is also survived by his companion of the last 20 years, Marion Hickey of LaGrangeville, NY.

In addition, he leaves behind his “by choice adopted daughters,” Terri “The Kid” Radachowsky (husband John), Rolande “You talk to me just like my daughter does” Paguay (Peter Meier), Pam “Trouble” Michael (husband Gary Sr), Laurie “Firecracker” MacKinnon and Karin “Adopt everyone” NeJame.

Assigning nicknames/sayings was a habit he had and something we will miss.

He was predeceased by his parents, an infant sister, his ex-wife, and numerous aunts and uncles.

We were in awe of the strength he showed in coming home (under hospice care) for his last days, reaching out to those he loved to share memories and having to say goodbye over and over again, planning his funeral (it’s that type A personality) and embracing that he had a good life, but it was simply time.

He was amazed at the love he felt and was shown during visits from the numerous people who came (as far as Nova Scotia and NC) to share that precious time (along with his favorites: pizza, Mexican beer, fajitas, and ice cream).

He told Allyson, through tears, that he didn’t know he made a difference in the lives of so many; that he never did it for any reward but simply did it because it was the right thing to do, and that he was humbled to know he could leave having made a difference in this world.

He knew when his grandson helped him out to sit in the sunshine on Thursday afternoon that the end was near—he verbalized it clearly, and he was okay. Very early the next morning he left with grace, with bravery, and in peace.

It is a myriad of little things that we will miss as we say our final goodbyes.

His straight shooter advice (welcomed or not), his love of family (even the gruffness), his variety of stories (some we have just heard in these last days).

Allyson will miss her real estate partner, her construction/home improvement partner, her Dad, and hearing, “Chick, don’t get excited but ….”. Jason will miss his Dad and their long conversations about crazy business ideas, and advice on the trials of life.

Friends will be received on Tuesday, June 18th, in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9 Granville Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Funeral services will take place at the Jowdy-Kane on Wednesday Morning, 11:00AM with internment immediately following at Elmwood Cemetery Bethel, CT.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Regional Hospice (30 Milestone Rd, Danbury, Ct 068120)—they were the angels in disguise that allowed us to fulfill AJ’s wishes to be home and for all of us to have this precious experience.

In addition, we want to thank Mary and Judy at Devita Dialysis in Newtown. They are incredible souls who we trusted, admired and came to care about.

Last but not least,, special thanks to Rolande who helped us navigate AJ’s care—life for our dad would have not been as secure, happy, and safe without your help.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of AJ Bernard hosted by Jowdy Kane Funeral Home.

Alfred James Bernard, aka AJ or Jim, age 87 of Danbury passed away June 14, 2024, at his daughter’s home (where he had lived since 2020), with his daughter and son by his side after a 6-month struggle with heart and kidney issues.

AJ was born August 16, 1936, on a dining room table on the corner of Main St. and West Lane in Ridgefield, CT to Alfred Everett and Eleanor Maude Bernard.

His youth was spent in the swamps and fields of Ridgefield trapping and hunting, eventually transitioning to working as golf caddy for a country club in town. He earned enough to buy his first property at the age of 15! AJ, known as Jim back then, graduated from Ridgefield High School with the class of 1954 whose class size was just 32. He was noted in his high school yearbook as “one of the quieter boys”! His hobbies were cars and boats. He placed second place in a “car rodeo.” His dream was to “own his own business” ().

AJ went to work in construction with his father in Bridgeport, embarking on the development of carpentry skills.

In addition, he joined the Army National Guard out of high school, achieving the rank of Sergeant E5, and attaining marksman on the Carbine and M1 Rifle by the end of enlistment in ’59.

He married his high school sweetheart, Alyce-Jane Thomas, on June 14,1958. They had 2 children, Allyson and Jason. After 33 years of marriage, Alyce and AJ divorced but stayed friendly and connected until Alyce’s death in 2020.

AJ was able to combine his carpentry skills and purchased property to build his first house on Hayestown Road in Danbury. This was his foray into his own construction company AJ Bernard Building & Real Estate Agency. He used the profits to invest and build on subsequent properties on Moody Drive, Danbury, and Bonnet Drive, Bethel.

In 1963, he joined the Greater Danbury Board of Realtors (now Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors). AJ’s professional career moved to concentrate on the real estate portion (residential and commercial), so he rebranded as the company as AJ Bernard Realty. He always was open to try new opportunities: Circa 1970, AJ Bernard bought a franchise of the E.R.A.(Electronic Realty Association). The focus was on a using new technology (fax machine) enabling to members to transmit pictures of properties and homes to each other.

He, with his wife and mother as operators, opened The Maternity Stop (1964-1966). AJ bought the first Re/Max franchise in Connecticut (RE/MAX Professionals: 1981-1993).

In 1993, AJ and his daughter, Allyson, opened and co-owned Real estate Professionals of CT, remaining active until his heart attack in December 2023. AJ not only served his customers but served his fellow Realtors.

Over his tenure in the Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors, he held every Board and MLS elected office except President.

He also served as chair for most every committee including Political Forums for the Public to hear State Senators and House Candidates during election time. Robert’s Rules of Order was his bible for these meetings.

He was 1995 Realtor of the Year.

From 2021-2022 he headed the NFCAR parking area expansion project which utilized the culmination of all his skills as builder, land developer and Realtor as he needed to negotiate with the state over the lease, catch subtle mistakes only an experienced eye would catch (before they became expensive to correct) and supervise the job daily. He was so proud to have accomplished this at his age. It was a source of pride every time he rode by the property.

At the state level (Connecticut Association of Realtors, now CTR), AJ served on the Board of Directors almost every year between 1960 and 2001, and again in 2016. He was on the CAR executive board Sept ’94 to Jan ’98. AJ helped establish the Commercial Investors Division (CID) (’68-’69), serving as state CID VP in ‘69 and serving as the President of the Stamford CID ’71 – ‘72. AJ was on the Executive Legislative and Political Affairs Committee ’82-’94, the Executive Legislative Steering Committee ’93 ’94, and the Realtor Services Committee ’94 to 2001. AJ taught International Real Estate at the ’99 & 2000 CAR Conventions. AJ was co-coordinator between CAR and NAR for the 1992 5TH Congressional District Political involvement in the election (a first in the northeast.) AJ was Vice-chair of the ’95 Risk Reduction, ’98 and ’99 CAR International, and 2000 Professional Standards Committees. AJ was Chair of the 2001 Professional Standards Committee.

At the national level (National Association of Realtors), AJ was involved in the Farm and Land Institute from ’68 to ’72. In ’89 and ’90 he was involved with FIABCI (Federation Internationale des Administrateurs de Bien Conseils et Immobiliers.) AJ attended most of the NAR Conventions in the 1980’s and 90’s. During the same period, AJ worked with the 5th Congressional district leaders and Congressman via NAR Washington meetings and visits on the hill. Helped develop content for the Political Action Computer Course for NAR. Past Member of the National Realtor Club and International Traders Club. First Realtor in Connecticut to have the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. Charter Member of International section (now called CIPS) in 1991. On the NAR Risk Management Committee ’95 to ’98. Chair of the Connecticut Membership committee ’94 and ’95. AJ had been certified as a Realtor active in politics since 1983. AJ had accumulated the following designations: CIPS, CRB, CRS, GRI, RMU, RECP, CRA, PSCS.

AJ believed that one should give back to the community. He served his local communities (Danbury and Bethel) through political and civic activities. In 1965, when the City of Danbury and the Town of Danbury merged, AJ was appointed to the Tax Study Committee to determine how to merge the two tax structures. AJ was Chair of the Danbury Fair Rent Commission from 1970 to 1980. Consultant to the Danbury Equal Rights Commission from 1972 to 1978. Member of the Danbury Tax Study Commission in 1974. Vice President of the State Federation of Fair Rent Associations from 1974 to 1979. In 1978,

AJ ran for the State Representative for the 110th District. In ’71 and ’81, AJ was Danbury City Constable.

In 1980, AJ was the security coordinator for Presidential Candidate George Bush’s visit to Danbury, working with the FBI, Secret Service, and State Police. In 1982 and 1986,

AJ was Coordinator for the County Sheriff election. In 1982, ‘83, AJ ran the National GOP workshop for candidates and campaign managers. AJ was appointed Fairfield County Deputy Sheriff in 1988. From ’89 to ’94, he was a member of the Danbury Airport Commission. Several appearances before State Legislative Committees, Regional Planning Commissions, Department of Environmental Protection, and Tri-state Planning Commissions to promote better laws and regulations. 8 years on the Bethel Board of Assessment Review.

In 2017, AJ ran for the Bethel Board of Finance. AJ was on the Bethel GOP Town Committee from 2009 to 2020. From 2016 to 2020,

AJ was elected Justice of the Peace. AJ also served to help raise funds for many entities, including the YMCA Building Fund (’75-81), YMCA General Fund (’88 – ’94), Regional Center Group Home Development (’75), The Salvation Army (’55 – ’60), the Children’s Miracle Network (’90 – ’94), and the Channel 8 Telethon for the Children’s Miracle Network (’91 – ’94). AJ was a guest lecturer for the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

From ’63 to ’78, AJ was a speaker in the lower schools about Real Estate, in the middle schools about investments, and to the seniors about politics in the Danbury school system. 1970 to 1985, AJ ran an educational program on Real Estate Investments and Syndication for the Bethel Public Library. 1973 – 1974,

AJ was the Director for the Grassy Plains Drum Corp in Bethel.

In 2023, he wrote an educational course for Realtors on how to navigate Town Halls and be successful in those goals. It was approved by the State of CT for CE credits after 6 months developing it (with many rewrites with Allyson’s help). It was scheduled, months in advance, for him to teach February 29th of this year. His goal after his Dec heart attack was to get up the steps of the NFCAR office and teach the course. True to form, against doctors’ wishes and most expectations, he climbed those steps and taught the three-hour course to a full room. Again, he achieved a goal he set for himself. Afterwards, when his daughter asked how it went (and if he was tired), he said, “I feel alive and invigorated.”

AJ is survived by his daughter Allyson J. Bernard-Church of Danbury, CT & Ocean City, MD (husband Bud Church); A. Jason Bernard of Waxhaw, NC (wife Esther); Grandson, Aristotle J Bernard of Waxhaw, NC; and Cousin Walter MacDonald of Nova Scotia (wife Mary).

He is also survived by his companion of the last 20 years, Marion Hickey of LaGrangeville, NY.

In addition, he leaves behind his “by choice adopted daughters,” Terri “The Kid” Radachowsky (husband John), Rolande “You talk to me just like my daughter does” Paguay (Peter Meier), Pam “Trouble” Michael (husband Gary Sr), Laurie “Firecracker” MacKinnon and Karin “Adopt everyone” NeJame.

Assigning nicknames/sayings was a habit he had and something we will miss.

He was predeceased by his parents, an infant sister, his ex-wife, and numerous aunts and uncles.

We were in awe of the strength he showed in coming home (under hospice care) for his last days, reaching out to those he loved to share memories and having to say goodbye over and over again, planning his funeral (it’s that type A personality) and embracing that he had a good life, but it was simply time.

He was amazed at the love he felt and was shown during visits from the numerous people who came (as far as Nova Scotia and NC) to share that precious time (along with his favorites: pizza, Mexican beer, fajitas, and ice cream).

He told Allyson, through tears, that he didn’t know he made a difference in the lives of so many; that he never did it for any reward but simply did it because it was the right thing to do, and that he was humbled to know he could leave having made a difference in this world.

He knew when his grandson helped him out to sit in the sunshine on Thursday afternoon that the end was near—he verbalized it clearly, and he was okay. Very early the next morning he left with grace, with bravery, and in peace.

It is a myriad of little things that we will miss as we say our final goodbyes.

His straight shooter advice (welcomed or not), his love of family (even the gruffness), his variety of stories (some we have just heard in these last days).

Allyson will miss her real estate partner, her construction/home improvement partner, her Dad, and hearing, “Chick, don’t get excited but ….”. Jason will miss his Dad and their long conversations about crazy business ideas, and advice on the trials of life.

Friends will be received on Tuesday, June 18th, in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9 Granville Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Funeral services will take place at the Jowdy-Kane on Wednesday Morning, 11:00AM with internment immediately following at Elmwood Cemetery Bethel, CT.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Regional Hospice (30 Milestone Rd, Danbury, Ct 068120)—they were the angels in disguise that allowed us to fulfill AJ’s wishes to be home and for all of us to have this precious experience.

In addition, we want to thank Mary and Judy at Devita Dialysis in Newtown. They are incredible souls who we trusted, admired and came to care about.

Last but not least,, special thanks to Rolande who helped us navigate AJ’s care—life for our dad would have not been as secure, happy, and safe without your help.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of AJ Bernard hosted by Jowdy Kane Funeral Home.

Events

Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of AJ Bernard.