Bernice was a tireless advocate for better transportation and often reached out to discuss transportation challenges and to seek information on how to address issues. She also had strong opinions of her own and often did a great deal of research first and came to the table with ideas and suggestions. I also appreciate her nudges on behalf of CCLVI for the BOP to look at creating more detailed large print production guidelines. Without her pushing, that process might have taken longer than it did, but she was a force that could not be resisted for too very long. Bernice made us all better, and I am grateful to her and Roger for their work and thoughtful contributions to so many issues.
— Ron Brooks
I have many fond memories of Bernice. Most of them seemed to be part of great telephone discussions we would have when Bernice would call me to ask me to do something, or be on some committee or such, for CCLVI. I usually had a reason or two for saying “no” to what she was requesting, but she never held that against me, and we used to talk incessantly.
At this sad time, I have looked for a happy memory with Bernice to share, and I have found one. I do not remember the year. It was probably in the 1990s, and we were flying back home from an ACB convention. I do not remember which one, but Ann and I had to change planes at Chicago O’Hare. I have not flown much over the past several years, and I do not know if this is still a feature of O’Hare, but they used to have an area known as “The Room.” It was a holding pen, where all disabled passengers who had a long layover were supposed to be taken and sequestered so the airlines so that the airlines could keep track of them. Avoiding being captured and sequestered in “the room” was a challenge in which many people with disabilities have participated over the years. The event I am describing here was the only time Ann and I ever got caught and ushered unceremoniously to “the room.” When we got there, we immediately found Bernice and Roger, who had also been caught. We sat down with them, and Ann said, “Roger, I am so sorry I missed you in the exhibit hall. I wanted to get a demonstration of that new . . . (It was some kind of new gadget with a braille display that Roger was employed to demonstrate).” Roger said that he had the gadget with him. We figured that we all had at least a couple of hours to be sequestered in “the room,” so Ann and Roger spread out the gadget stuff on a nearby table and became immediately engrossed in playing with Roger’s gadget.
Bernice said to me, “Well, they seem to have something to do, but I want to go find a bar and get a drink.” I agreed, so we started to leave the room in search of a bar. Immediately, the uniformed guard blocked our way and told us we could not leave. We, in an initially polite manner, explained that we had a long layover, and we were going to a bar. She said we could not do that because we had to stay in the room because we are disabled. We asked if there was a bar in the room, and were told, “Of course not.” I think Bernice was in the lead as we pushed past the uniformed guard and headed down the concourse. We moved into the stream of foot traffic with the guard in chase yelling that we could not leave the room to go to a bar. I do not remember her exact wording, but it amused Bernice and me, and we were laughing all the way down the concourse to the nearest watering hole. Somewhere along the way, the lady gave up the pursuit and returned to her guard station.
Bernice and I had a very pleasant conversation and a couple of drinks. By the time we got back to the room, our flights were soon to leave, and Roger and Ann were packing up Roger’s gadget. I think Ann liked it, but we decided we could not afford it. However, she and Roger had a good time playing with it in “the room,” and I will always remember breaking out of the room to go have a drink and a great conversation with Bernice.
— Michael Byington
I was very sorry to hear of Bernice’s passing. She has been such a presence in ACB for many years. She was always there in my early days in ACB, giving background information, advice, opinion, and she was never shy to tell me she disagreed with something I was doing, or a position ACB was taking on an issue. She was strong, relentless, and so dedicated every day to ACB and her work for the blind and low-vision community.
May she find her place in the hereafter, and continue to advocate for justice for all!
Rest in peace, our friend!
— Kim Charlson
Bernice was instrumental in getting me involved with CCLVI. In 2007, she called me out of the blue and told me she wanted me to serve on the nominating committee. I did. She then told me she wanted me on the board in 2008 while still serving on the nominating committee. I had grave concerns about the appearance of a nominating committee chair being elevated to a board seat, so I declined. But somehow, I still got elected to the board.
Not only was Bernice an encyclopedia of information and could spout off dates of what transacted when within ACB and CCLVI, she had a unique style of reaching out, getting people involved to take hold of the organization and running with it.
Bernice was at the virtual business meeting of CCLVI in July and, in a private communication with me following, was deeply concerned about the direction the organization was headed. Nevertheless, she remained steadfast in her support of people with low vision, believing there is, and will always be, a need for the organization. I just wish ... and I bear some responsibility given my CCLVI presidency in 2012 and 2013 ... we would have taken the time to secure the history of the organization.
As my cousin Margaret always says, “Whenever someone passes, another library closes.”
— Jim Jirak
Roger, I join with so many others in expressing my sincere condolences on the passing of Bernice Kandarian. As you know, in the past few years, Bernice and I had several conversations about the history of the Arizona Council, a subject on which she was extremely well versed given that she was an Arizona resident at the time AZCB came into being. She will be sorely missed. May she rest in peace!
— John McCann
I was extremely saddened to hear of Bernice’s passing this morning. She was one of the first ACB members I met, as she and Joanne were friends and spent time together at our home in L.A. I learned much from her before and after our California affiliate became part of the ACB family, and there certainly was no one who knew and passed along their knowledge of ACB’s founding than Bernice. She was also the go-to person on anything and everything related to Social Security while an employee of SSA and for years thereafter.
— Mitch Pomerantz
If it were not for Bernice, I don’t know that I would have become involved with ACB on the national level. I remember when Bernice called me to ask me to be on what was then called Women’s Concerns (now ACB Women). I remember thinking, “What in the world does she see in me, a young 20-something who was clueless about the world?”
Bernice taught me that I had a lot to offer and saw potential in me, and also taught me to see the potential in others.
I always enjoyed the history lessons given to me by both you and her. I try and carry on the history that I’ve lived as well as let people know the inside scoop on other things the two of you taught me.
— Lori Scharff