Bernie Bar-Ner ... turned to Wall Street and arranged a $30 million financing
When we arrived in Israel, life was inexpensive. A weekend for the four of us at the luxurious Caesarea Hotel cost only $25.
It was on one of the weekends there while playing a threesome tennis that I was approached by a man who asked whether he could be included to make up a foursome. We enjoyed our game and at the end I invited him for a drink. In the next hour Bernie Bar-Ner related an incredible story. Short in stature - not more than five feet and six inches tall, he was stout and balding. He had served in the American army and was among those troops which invaded Europe. After being demobbed, he signed up at the City College of New York (CCNY) where studied accounting and learned the profession without ever using a calculating machine.
After graduation he worked for a New York accounting firm. As was customary in those days he was sent out to companies where he did their books once a week. At one of these companies, unknown to Bernie, the proprietor was observing him carefully. One day he approached him, and at twice the salary that he was being paid, offered him a full time position in the company named Jonathan Logan. Bernie's progress was nothing short of phenomenal and a few years later Bernie was being involved in contracts in the States and overseas. At the peak of his career at Jonathan Logan, Bernie turned to Wall Street and arranged a $30 million financing.
The years moved on and Bernie decided that he would retire to Israel. He Hebraized his name from Wulkan to Bar-Ner. He purchased a magnificent home in Caesarea along with a swimming pool and a tennis court. However, besides a game of golf several times a week, he was bored. Others seemed to be working and were busy with various activities.
The story he told us was incredible, and that same night I called a Wall Street friend who confirmed that it was all true and without embellishments.
It was a critical point in my professional life. I had spent 10 years working in the securities department of a well-known bank. I was ready for a change and Bernie was to be my answer. My wife and I drove out to Caesarea the next day, and over drinks I suggested to Bernie that we form a money management company. He hugged me and agreed on the spot, and so our partnership was established. We never needed a partnership contract and we never argued.
Bernie found a shabby room in his cousin's office. I declined. How could we sit with wealthy clients in such a mess? However, my friends who built the elegant Asia House found us a room and did not even ask for rental.
The partnership thrived and before we knew it we had more than 100 clients. Once a month, Bernie, using only his yellow legal pad and pencil, prepared statements. They were typed and dispatched monthly to clients.
Our days were idyllic. An early morning tennis game followed by an Israeli breakfast, and half a day of intense work in managing our clients' affairs.
Eight years later Bernie retired to his palatial home in Caesarea. We played on his tennis court and swam in the pool. I maintained a limited management business. In the afternoon I wrote for The Jerusalem Post. I finished my fourth book about Israeli technology.
Bernie, who had undergone a triple bypass several years previously, began to suffer from various illnesses. In early September 2016 Bernie passed away leaving me with happy memories of days gone by. He was buried in his beloved Caesarea.
I will always remember the fruitful years we spent together.