Mr. Bernhardt managed to survive and was awarded a Purple Heart. For the rest of his life, his military service would remain a large part of his identity, Joe Bernhardt said.
"If you met him, you knew within five minutes that he served in World War II," he said.
After the war, Mr. Bernhardt married Eileen Lawler, whom he had dated before he was shipped overseas.
They raised a family in East Falls.
Mr. Bernhardt was active in a neighborhood church and started a local optician's practice, where he worked for about 15 years.
"He was a real neighborhood guy," his son said, noting that his father offered bargain deals to community members. "He wasn't just a salesman."
Before he had his own business, Mr. Bernhardt crafted lenses at Philadelphia Optical Co. in Center City.
He also served as president of the local branch of the International Jewelry Workers Union. He briefly took time off from his career as an optician to work full-time as the business agent for the union.
In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Bernhardt is survived by sons Gerard Jr. and Bruce; daughters Eileen McStravick, Helen McMonagle, Frances Catherine, Theresa, Maryanne Brooks, Dolores, and Cecelia J.; two sisters; 23 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. His wife died in 1999.
Viewings will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, and 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at McIlvaine Funeral Home, 3711 Midvale Ave. A Funeral Mass at St. Bridget Roman Catholic Church, 3673 Midvale Ave., will follow the Saturday viewing at 10:30. Burial will be in Westminster Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.
Donations may be made to Disabled American Veterans, Box 14301, Cincinnati, Ohio 45290.
Contact Theodore Schleifer at 215-854-5607, email@example.com, or follow @teddyschleifer on Twitter.