When Bernie settled in Cherry Hill and decided to raise his family here, he did it the same way he does everything else: He put his heart and soul into it. And that meant rolling up his sleeves and really getting involved in the day-to-day life of the town. In the process, he came to know every neighborhood, every street, every byway, every civic and community group, every businessperson and literally thousands of ordinary residents. He knew them all on a first-name basis. And that's the way he conducted business.
And he was there -- always there -- when we needed him.
I'm proud to say that I've known Bernie Platt all of these years -- known him like so many others, simply as "Bernie" -- someone I could call upon; someone I could rely on; someone who would listen and do his best.
More than perhaps anyone else, I credit Bernie Platt with saving the west side of town -- Cherry Hill's gateway. Without the Cherry Hill Mall renaissance and the Garden State Park development Cherry Hill's front door (it's face to the world) may have perished and Cherry Hill as we have come to know it would be gone. Beyond that, Bernie helped to save aging developments, forestall blight and keep the town vibrant and alive. Bernie recognized that this also meant working with business leaders, bringing in both new businesses and the right businesses, limiting the size and cost of government and being efficient and innovative. He surrounded himself with a first rate staff and he kept in tune with changing times and changing developments.
Prior to his current term as Mayor, Bernie Platt served as Mayor of Cherry Hill Township from 1979 to 1980 as well as Deputy Mayor from 1976 to 1979 and Councilman from 1980 to 1985. He has served as a member of the Cherry Hill Township Site Plan and Review Board, the Economic Development Committee, Emergency Medical Services Chairman, and organizer of the Save A Life fund drive, which benefited the former Cherry Hill Ambulance Squad. Recently he served as a member of theCamden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the governing body of Camden County, from 1996 to '98.
Bernie has a long record of service throughout the Southern New Jersey region. Through his leadership in a wide variety of organizations, Bernie has worked to enhance our region's quality of life. He has served as president of a number of civic, charitable and community organizations; the Downs Farm Civic Association, the Jewish Home in Cherry Hill, Jewish Family and Children's Services, the former West Jersey Arts Center, the Southern New Jersey Council of Jewish National Fund, the Southern New Jersey B'nai B'rith Housing Corporation, and Congregation BJ-BI (Merchantville).
He is a member of B'nai B'rith's Cherry Hill Lodge and Cherry Hill Lodge 966 of B'rith Shalom. A Mason, Bernie is a member of Mizpah-Haddon Heights Lodge #191 F. & A. M. His synagogue affiliations include Temple Beth Sholom, Congregation Sons of Israel, and Chabad Lubavitch in Cherry Hill.
Since 1977, Bernie and his wife Judy have been business owners in Cherry Hill. Platt Memorial Chapels, Inc is a family owned and operated full service funeral home. Bernie's professional affiliations include the West Jersey Funeral Directors Association and the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association.
It's a well known fact that Bernie is most proud of his family. He has his priorities in order. He and Judy raised their four children in Cherry Hill: Alison, Harry (a committeeman and former mayor in neighboring Vorhees), Sheryl, and Rena. The Platts have eight grandchildren. Bernie and Harry were America's first father and son mayors to serve in adjoining towns, and their unique relationship was featured in People Magazine.
Though he could have easily been re-elected to another term, Bernie Platt chose not to run for re-election this year. He earned the right to turn the page and move on to other endeavors. And he does it with his head held high.
As the leader of our town, he will be missed.
But you can be sure his heart will always be with Cherry Hill.
To Bernie, Judy and the family, we say: "Mille Grazie!" for a job well done.