Sara F. Bernhardt, 98, a founder of congregationSara F...

March 20, 1996

Sara F. Bernhardt, 98, a founder of congregation

Sara F. Bernhardt, a homemaker and a founder of Beth Jacob Congregation, died Monday of heart failure at the Pikesville Nursing Home. She was 98.

She and her husband, Joseph Bernhardt, helped establish Beth Jacob in the 5700 block of Park Heights Ave. in 1938.

Until recent years, she remained active in the congregation, where she was known as "the matriarch, historian, counselor, big sister and chairwoman-at-large," said Jan Schein of Baltimore, a granddaughter. She was a volunteer for many years in Sinai Hospital's kosher kitchen and had been given the Torah Judaism Award of the Maryland Chapter of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

Born and raised on South Caroline Street, the former Sara Fooksman was the daughter of immigrant parents who came to Baltimore from Lublin, Russia, which today is part of Poland. She lived in Northwest Baltimore for many years.

Her husband, whom she married in 1918, died in 1964.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road.

She is survived by a son, Jay Bernhardt of Baltimore; two daughters, Beverly Hyman and Eileen Sakin, both of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. William J. Eiler, a one-time Army officer and foreman at Bethlehem Steel Corp., died Thursday of natural causes at his home in East Baltimore. He was 72.

He was born in Baltimore and graduated from Patterson Park High School. He served in the Army for 15 years and received a battlefield commission in World War II. He was a captain when he left the Army in 1958.

The next year, he went to work at Sparrows Point, where he stayed for 20 years as a foreman.

His first marriage ended in divorce. In 1959, he married Jean Hastry of Baltimore. Some years ago, she moved to Moorefield, W. Va., while he remained here. He frequently traveled to West Virginia to visit her.

He was an avid amateur historian with a fondness for military history. He was a Civil War buff and enjoyed visiting battlefields and collecting military memorabilia.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a niece, Susan Wilson of Kent, Wash.; and a nephew, Jack Pfeifer of New York.

A memorial service will be scheduled in West Virginia.

W. Lee Benson, 82, Baltimore native, minister

W. Lee Benson, a Baltimore native and retired minister, died of leukemia Thursday in Abington, Pa. He was 82.

During the 1940s, he was pastor at three Methodist churches in Baltimore County.

After graduating from Towson High School in 1930, he attended Maryland Institute, College of Art, then earned degrees from Dickinson College and Boston University School of Theology.

From 1949 to 1952 Mr. Benson taught at a Christian school in New Jersey, then returned to the pulpit at the Orthodox Presbyterian church in Ringoes, N.J., which he served for 27 years.

After he retired, he and his wife of 55 years, the former Mildred Plack of Baltimore, returned to Towson. He did maintenance work at a Lutheran school and taught art at Essex Community College from 1984 to 1992. That year, the couple moved to Hatboro, Pa.

Services were held yesterday. Other survivors include a daughter, Barbara B. Cottenden of Hatboro; a son, Robert G. Benson of Flemington, N.J.; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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