Truck driver and track star was `a very faithful person'

Age 50

September 19, 2005|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,SUN REPORTER

George J. Bernier III, a truck driver and longtime member of Redeemer's Fellowship Church who set track records as a student at Parkville High, died Sept. 11 of liver cancer in his home in Northeast Baltimore. He was 50.

Born and raised in Richmond, Va., Mr. Bernier moved to Baltimore with his family in 1969. As a track star at Parkville High School in the early 1970s, he set school records in the 800 and 1600 meters that stand today.

Don Wann, Mr. Bernier's track coach at Parkville, said he was the most talented athlete he ever coached there. Initially discouraged by the grueling workouts, Mr. Bernier stuck with it and developed into one of the hardest-working runners the school had ever seen, Mr. Wann said.

After high school, Mr. Bernier attended the University of Pennsylvania, but his track and academic career ended early when he pulled his Achilles tendon during a race, the family said.

He returned to Baltimore and built wooden swing sets at Rockland Woodworks before becoming a truck driver for L. Fishman & Sons, a carpeting supplier for whom he worked the past 10 years.

Long active in church and community affairs, Mr. Bernier met his wife, Felicidad Marcelino Bernier, while on a two-week humanitarian mission to the Philippines. They married there in 1989.

Edie Bernier, Mr. Bernier's sister, described him as a humble man who always thought of others first. Once, returning to Baltimore from Philadelphia while at college, he was robbed in a bathroom at Penn Station in Baltimore, she said. As the thief walked off, she recalled, Mr. Bernier called him back and gave him a copy of the Bible, saying, "I think you need it."

She added that Mr. Bernier gained a reputation on his truck route delivering carpeting supplies to wholesalers because he would often unload the truck and stock the goods for customers, although it was not required. Occasionally, she said, Mr. Bernier won Employee of the Month awards from his customers, even though he wasn't an employee.

Bob Arnold, a lifelong friend and executive director of Metro Maryland Youth Ministries, a nonprofit group that sends youngsters to complete work projects in developing countries, said Mr. Bernier was one of the finest people he ever knew.

"He was a very faithful person, faithful in whatever he did," Mr. Arnold said. "Whatever he did in his life, he did to the best of his ability."

Funeral services were Wednesday.

Besides his wife and sister, Mr. Bernier is survived by two daughters, Maria and Audrey Bernier of Baltimore; a son, Nick Bernier of Baltimore; his parents, George J. Bernier Jr. and Ann C. Bernier; and two other sisters, Barri Bernier of Colorado and Barbara Bernier Dax of Austria.brad.olson@baltsun.com

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