BERNARD WILLIAM LEVINE
Bernard William Levine died Sept. 25, 2021.
Bernie (or Billy as he was called in his younger days) was born Sept. 6, 1935, to Rose and Jack Levine in the Bronx, New York. Bernie was adored by, and in-turn adored his family, especially his older sister Joyce. Separately, Bernie’s parents immigrated to the US from Europe in the early 1920s. They had witnessed the horrors of the antisemitic pogroms in Eastern Europe following World War I, and each sought lives free from hatred against Jews. Rose and Jack both followed older siblings to the US. Their parents and several siblings remained in Eastern Europe and were among the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The Holocaust remained a wound throughout Bernie’s life, and is a scar that continues to guide the moral compass of Bernie’s family.
Bernie graduated from Columbia University, with a degree in political science, and the University of Michigan Law School. His favorite memory from his days at Columbia was his interview with Eleanor Roosevelt for the college radio station.
It was while at the University of Michigan that Bernie met his first wife, Marian Goody. In the early years, Bernie practiced real estate law in New York and in 1962 their first daughter, Randie, was born. The following year, the stars in the universe aligned in such a way that Bernie, Marian and Randie left New York for the tropical paradise of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Bernie and Marian owned and operated a small hotel across the street from a beautiful beach on the Caribbean and in 1965 welcomed their second daughter, Melissa. Despite rolling electrical brown-outs, TV that ended in the early evening, ice that was delivered in a huge block into a dirt pit on the side of the road and an occasional hurricane, life in Jamaica was idyllic. The Levines welcomed guests to the hotel with their Irish setter, Cindy, chased trucks carrying sugar cane and even greeted Queen Elizabeth.
In 1969, with young daughters in tow, Bernie and Marian packed up, sold the hotel and boarded a plane for Florida. In Florida, the family purchased a car and proceeded to spend the next several weeks driving across the southern portion of the US in search of a new home. Upon arriving in Phoenix, Marian declared that the palm trees were beautiful. True to Bernie’s unconditionally supportive manner, the matter was settled – Phoenix would be their new home.
Bernie had a commercial real estate practice for several years and again, Bernie and Marian entered the hotel business. As part of the Quality Inn brand, Bernie’s hotel ventures were successful and he rose to leadership positions in the franchisees’ association and the Arizona industry associations.
Without drama, Bernie and Marian divorced in the mid-1980s. Several years later, Bernie met Lois Klein, also a hospitality industry professional, and the two were married in 1990. Lois brought out a fun-loving side of Bernie and they were happily married for nearly 30 years until Lois’ passing in 2019. He has missed her terribly.
Bernie and Lois doted on grandchildren, spent weekends at their condo in Prescott, took up bicycling, traveled the Greek Isles, toured Britain with stops to visit Bernie’s dear friends from Jamaica, enjoyed numerous trips to Chicago and New York, cruised Europe, delighted in the wonder of the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico, adventured to Australia and New Zealand in 2000 for the Olympic Games, sampled the latest restaurants in Phoenix, relished spending time with their friends and Lois got Bernie to exercise and eat breakfast for the first time in his life.
True to his nature, Bernie was fully devoted to Lois and her care from the moment of her diagnosis until the time of her passing. Bernie became Lois’ chief chef, shopper, appointment maker, driver and comfort. He took on these responsibilities willingly and cheerfully, and did his best to execute them in exactly the way Lois would have had she been able to do them herself. This was Bernie’s true persona: selflessly caring and devoted.
Bernie was well-known in the Arizona Hospitality Industry. In 1974, Bernie purchased Quality Inn Desert Sky motel and quickly became involved in the governance of the International Operators Council of Quality International and served as president from 1981 to 1985. Bernie purchased a second hotel in 1980. He served on numerous boards in the Valley and was president of both the Valley Hotel & Resort Association and the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. Bernie was appointed by two governors to the Arizona Tourism Advisory Counsel and was inducted into the Arizona Governor’s Tourism Hall of Fall at the 2003 STAR Gala. After selling his hotel properties, Bernie continued in the hotel/motel real estate business until shortly before his passing. He last renewed his real estate license in the fall of 2019. Bernie loved driving the beautiful state of Arizona and the rich history of Phoenix and many of the small towns. Bernie always loved his work.
Bernie was an exceptional conversationalist and a voracious reader, who especially enjoyed political biographies and historical novels. Bernie was enamored with the trappings of politics and was a life-long student of public policy. He was a loyal and devoted husband, cherished father, fiercely proud grandfather, dedicated son and brother and a gentle, trustworthy and thoroughly decent human being.
Bernie is predeceased by his parents, Jack and Rose and stepmother Elsie; sister, Joyce Brenner (Milty); and wife, Lois. Bernie is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Randie and Lee Stein; daughter and daughter-in-law, Melissa Levine and Lisa Byrnes; grandchildren, Alex Stein, Elizabeth Stein, Josh Levine and Jeremy Levine; niece, Susan Morton (Chet); nephew, Gary Brenner; stepson, Jordan Klein; and numerous granddogs.
Bernie died from complications associated with esophageal cancer, originally diagnosed in February 2019. The family is grateful for the wonderful care Bernie and Lois received over the past seven years from Connections in Home Care. Bernie’s final days were peaceful and spent together with his daughters and family. Contributions in Bernie’s memory can be made to the American Cancer Society, Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale or Congregation Or Chadash in Tucson. Arrangements by Sinai Mortuary.