Jerome (Jerry) Berner, a resident of Shelter Island `for nearly 50 years, died Wednesday, Dec. 1 after a long illness. Those who knew him would say he was 93 years young, given his ebullient spirit and love for life.
Jerry was a first-generation American, born on July 17, 1928 to Max and May Berner in the Bronx. After high school he served honorably in the United States Navy for two years, between WWII and the Korean War.
As a gifted athlete, he was offered a position to play baseball in the minor leagues, but declined the offer to attend college. He attended New York University on the G.I. Bill and majored in health education.
Jerry began his family life when he married Ruth Aronson in 1952 and moved to Brooklyn, where they raised their three children. He got the “Shelter Island itch” after visiting relatives with waterfront property in the early 1960s. After renting for several years, he bought a house, a boat, put in a tennis court and began his retirement after 35 years of high school teaching and coaching.
Jerry led his Brooklyn-based Eastern District High School basketball team to three city championships and helped many of his basketball players go on to college.
Jerry was loved by all for his generosity, big-heartedness and playful and fun-loving nature. On Shelter Island, he started and ran annual tennis tournaments to bring people together and raise funds for the library, and served on the board of the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club.
Jerry shared his love for his family and affection for his friends through his many activities — tennis, golf, fishing, gardening, bridge and cooking.
Jerry is survived by his three children and their spouses: Julie and Rob Getlan, Susan and Massimo Gigli, and Dan and Lenore Berner.
He was beloved by his five grandchildren: Hannah and Daniel Berner, Nicholas DiChiaro, and Simon and Jonah Gigli.
The family respectfully asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.