Beloved PMA Supporter and Civic Leader, Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein, dies at 90

Beloved PMA Supporter and Civic Leader, Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein, dies at 90

The PMA lost a great friend this Sunday when Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein passed away. Roz was a longtime Trustee and one of the "Museum Five," a group of five women who helped shape the PMA—and the Portland—that you know today. We all owe her tremendous gratitude and will miss her terribly. Learn more about her and the Museum Five in the Portland Press Herald story below.

One of the Portland Museum of Art’s most beloved longtime supporters passed away Sunday at her home on Portland’s Eastern Promenade. Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein, who was known to friends and family as Roz, died one week after her 90th birthday. Bernstein, the widow of well-known Portland lawyer Sumner Bernstein, served for six decades on the Museum’s Board of Trustees. She also served as the organization’s President from 1979 thru 1981. During that time, she co-chaired the steering committee that raised funds for the construction of the Charles Shipman Payson Building – the landmark structure that stands at the corner of High Street and Congress Square. The Payson Building opened in 1983. “We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of one of our most beloved trustees, Rosalyne Spindel Bernstein,” the museum said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “Roz was one of the Museum Five, a group of five women, including her close friend, the late Peggy Osher, who were integral to making the Portland Museum of Art the institution that it is today,” the Museum said. “The legacy that she leaves, especially due to her steadfast and tireless work and advocacy on behalf of the museum’s collections, cannot be overstated. Her contributions to the Portland Museum of Art will be forever recognized and she will be missed by all who had the honor of knowing her.”

The Museum Five consisted of five prominent Portland area women who were dedicated to making the museum a cultural and educational destination in dowtown Portland. Katherine Woodman, Rachel Armstrong, Wilma Redman, Osher and Bernstein made up the group, according to Owen Wells, who knew them well. Wells served as past president of the museum. Wells, who is now the vice chairman for the Libra Foundation’s Board of Directors, said the Libra Foundation gave $2 million to the Portland Museum of Art in honor of the Museum Five. Wells said a gallery at the museum is named after the women. Wells said that Bernstein was a particularly strong advocate for the museum, a woman he says made an positive impact on Portland’s cultural life. “Roz was one of the brightest women I have ever known. She had an interest in so many things,” Wells said. According to her family, Bernstein was the daughter of immigrant parents – Harry Spindel and Bertha Lehrer Spindel. She was born December 22, 1928 in the Bronx, New York city. She attended Radcliffe College, which has merged with Harvard University, graduating in 1950. That is where she met her future husband, Sumner Thurman Bernstein of Portland. The couple moved to Portland in 1950 and never left the city. Sumner Bernstein died in 2002.

Bernstein’s daughter, Beth Bernstein Schneider, who lives in London, England, said her mother’s lifetime devotion to public service and giving back to the community was inspired by her parents. When they arrived in the United States, Bernstein’s parents took jobs in knitting factories. “She had immigrant parents, who felt they were incredibly lucky to live in the United States,” Schneider said. “They felt they had an obligation to do good in the world and my mother spent her life doing just that.” Schneider said her mother’s parents also impressed upon her the importance of education, a value that led to a lifetime of learning. She co-founded Headstart in the Portland Public Schools and served three terms on the Portland School Committee, including one term as committee chair. When she stepped down from the School Committee in 1972, the Portland Press Herald published an editorial that praised her service called “She Made Waves.” Bernstein eventually earned a law degree in 1986, at the age of 58.

 
Funeral services will be held Friday, January 4, at Congregation Bet Ha’am, 81 Westbrook Street, South Portland. The service will start at 10 a.m.

The family is asking that contributions be made in Bernstein’s memory to the Portland Museum of Art, the Rosalyne and Sumner Bernstein Scholarship Fund at Bowdoin College and to Congregation Bet Ha’am.

Original printed in the Portland Press Herald. 
Dennis Hoey, Staff Writer
January 3, 2019
Read the original article on the Portland Press Herald's website by clicking here.

 

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January 3, 2019
Director of Communications

Graeme is a Maine native who, after ten years living in New York and the west coast, decided to come back and set up shop in Portland. In addition to the PMA, he's held positions at GQ, Rogues Gallery, and Might & Main. He lives in Yarmouth, where he spends most of his free time with his daughters, Ramona and Maude.