Paul Bernhardt passed away last night. He will be missed by so many. The heartfelt depth of that missing will be uncommon. He was a regular guy in a small town who made a gigantic impact on the town and the many, many people around him.
Years ago, when Steve Bouser was editor of the Salisbury Post, he wrote a column about Salisbury’s most this and most that. He listed Paul as Salisbury’s most compassionate man. He was. He spent the days of his life taking care of people, beginning with his wife and Paul Jr., and extending out to those with special needs anywhere and everywhere. If he saw a chance to make a difference in the life of a cat, a homeless guy, a friend, a neighborhood, or a city, he sprang into action. My mom was like that also. She and Paul were like two peas in a pod.
He was a southern gentleman, a master in the art of conversation, and I am richly blessed to have participated in many of them with him. He was a good Democrat who started veering to the right just a bit in the past few years. He was a former mayor who never stopped coming up with ideas that would benefit the city.
He liked to talk. He liked to listen. He liked to think. He enjoyed ideas. And he loved to reminiscence.
I visited him last night, in his hospital room, just a few hours before he passed away, just in time to wish him an easy exit from this life. His breathing was calm. He was comfortable and peaceful.
My, how quickly life surges forward. What a difference two years can make in who is here and who is not.