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Bernard Sabreen passed away on February 6, at the age of 95, in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “Bernie,” as he was known to almost everyone, was a retired chemical engineer who spent over 50 years in his chosen profession. He was also an active Jewish community volunteer, an entrepreneur, and a life-long Philadelphian ─ a graduate of South Philadelphia High School and the University of Pennsylvania and a long-time resident of Northeast Philadelphia, who couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
In 1941, Bernie graduated with a chemical engineering degree from Penn’s Towne School of Engineering ― the first in his immediate family to go to college ― and immediately joined Publicker Industries, a manufacturer of industrial alcohol, industrial chemicals and carbon dioxide, and a distiller and packager of liquors. During World War II, he worked as a member of a Publicker team focused on developing synthetic rubber to replace vital natural rubber supplies that had been interrupted by war activity, particularly in the Pacific. He worked there for nearly 25 years, eventually rising through the ranks to become its Chief Engineer. During his time at Publicker, he designed and supervised the construction and operation of a distillery in Scotland to produce the Inver House brand of scotch whiskey, now part of International Beverage Holdings.
In 1966 Bernie left the company as a full time employee ─ although he continued to work with Publicker for another 20 years as a Consulting Engineer ─ to join Seaboard Manufacturing Laboratories as an owner/partner. As Seabord’s General Manager, he ran a custom packaging business that packaged major brands including Prestone, Armstrong One Step Floor Polish, Mobile Oil, Gulf Oil, DuPont and Coleman. After selling Seaboard to Hercules, Inc., he joined Morris Hardware/Dialogic Corporation as its General Manager. He retired in 1990.
Bernie was a devoted life-long member of the Oxford Circle Jewish Community Center (O.C.J.C.C), where he was one of its founders in the late 1940’s, and later served for two years as its president, overseeing the design, construction and dedication of its Sanctuary and building expansion. Bernie received numerous honors for his service, including being named one of the “Men of the Decade” for his work and dedication to O.C.J.C.C. He was also one of the founders of the Dolphin Swim Club in Feasterville, PA.
But Bernie would probably say that his most important accomplishment was his family. In 1942 he married his Germantown sweetheart Gertrude “Gert” Wartman, a marriage that spanned nearly 59 years until her death in 2001. They raised three children: Richard, of Stamford, CT., Robert of Westfield, NJ, and Esther Allen (Sabreen) of Bensalem, PA. Bernie has five grandchildren who live in Bensalem, PA; Manhattan; Denver; and Laguna Beach, CA.
The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia or to the Abramson Center for Jewish Life where Bernie spent the final years of his life.