Thanks to the efforts of friends and fellow alumni of the late Henry C. Bernhardt '50, a fully funded scholarship has been established in his memory at Catawba.
The fund-raising effort for the scholarship was led by two close friends of Bernhardt, Tuck Gudger '48 and Walt Ramseur '49. Preference for the scholarship will be given to student athletes and/or members of the marching band.
Bernhardt, who died March 20, 2010, was a World War II veteran who served as executive vice-president of the Salisbury-Rowan Merchants Association and as president and general manager of the Salisbury Hardware Company. He was Catawba's first development officer, appointed to the job in 1967 by then college president, Dr. Donald Dearborn.
"President Dearborn's appointment of Henry to be the first development officer in Catawba's history was really prescient," remembers David E. Setzer, retired vice president of communications at Catawba. "The task was enormous, the experience of the staff and of the new director was minimal, the need and the task at hand were substantial, but the desire to achieve and get the job done was outstanding. Henry brought critical and in-depth understanding of the Salisbury-Rowan community to the job, along with an equally deep and mischievous sense of humor, an essential element as we tackled the whole fund-raising task."
In his role as director of development, Bernhardt organized and directed two major capital campaigns as well as numerous special fund drives and projects. During his 14-year tenure, Catawba won three national (CASE-U.S. Steel) awards for alumni fundraising and the Catawba Chiefs Club was organized.
Janice Petrea, Bernhardt's longtime assistant for 25 years, first at Catawba and later at Bernhardt's consulting firm, Institutional Development Association (IDA), recalls her boss fondly. "I had the privilege of working with Henry for over 25 years and found him to be a lot like his handwriting — difficult to decipher, but predictable and consistent. He had extreme pride in and love for Catawba College and for his hometown of Salisbury and worked diligently for the success of both. He was tenacious in making the seemingly difficult become a reality.
"Henry was an incredibly talented, predictably aggravating, surprisingly tenderhearted, and a wonderfully unique man and my life has been blessed by knowing him."
Bernhardt was extremely active in civic affairs, including the Salisbury Jaycees and Salisbury's Holiday Caravan parade. He was a founding member and past chair of the Salisbury Planning Board and was vice president of Rowan County's "250 Fest" steering committee.
He had a great love for his alma mater. He served on the alumni association and Catawba honored him with the O.B. Michael Alumnus of the Year Award in 1981. He was inducted into Catawba's Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
A veteran of World War II, he saw action in Europe while serving in the 90th Infantry of Patton's Army, and was awarded two Bronze Stars. He was an Eagle Scout, as were his three sons, and an advocate of scouting.
Bernhardt is survived by wife Jo Ann, sons Linn, John and Matt, and daughter Laura.
Friends and fellow alumni who wish to contribute to the Henry Bernhardt Endowed Scholarship Fund may do so by contacting the Catawba College Development Office at (704) 637-4394.
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