Focus On: Ken & Alice Bernhard

Ken Bernhard is a name—and a face—recognizable around town. A principal in the local law firm Cohen & Wolfe, Bernhard has also dedicated his life to public service in a variety of ways. He represented Westport in the state’s General Assembly and also served as Westport’s 3rd Selectman. Bernhard has been a board member for a number of local charities including the Aspetuck Land Trust, Westport Museum, Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Fairfield County and many more too numerous to count. 

As a board member and volunteer for Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation he’s raised seven guide dogs with his wife Alice.  His humanitarian efforts include helping to found the Syria Fund which aids refugees in Jordan and his shoe collection drive Soles4Souls gives thousands of shoes to kids worldwide. Bernhard is also a supporter of Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which provides shelter, food, and education for more than two hundred children. Ken Bernhard is one of Westport’s all-around good guys. 

“We are by nature actively engaged people. Most every day we strive to be busy, productive, and helpful. For the past fifty years, we have pursued our personal and working endeavors with energy and enthusiasm. So, as the government required us to stay at home, sequestered from our normal lives, we were curious to see how we would manage this new reality. For three, almost four, weeks, we have remained at home venturing out only for short walks or brief excursions to the grocery store. 

We have chosen to remain self-reliant, without resorting to the few available opportunities for social interaction. We find that we are doing very well in this environment of seclusion. It is, of course, painful to watch and read the news relaying how terrifying, deadly and difficult it is for others, and because of that our hearts break every day. But, if we stay in the moment and focus on our immediate time and space, the experience has been enlightening and worthwhile.  

…if we stay in the moment and focus on our immediate time and space, the experience has been enlightening and worthwhile.  

Ken is a local attorney and Alice is the marketing and development director for a hospice organization. Ken’s workload has fallen off dramatically; however, he finds opportunities to stay busy, or not, as he prefers knowing he has tomorrow to do what needs to be done. Alice has remained busy with her work within the health field, but is catching up on a lot of reading. 

Westport remains a community of wonderment always able to meet and deal with challenges as they present themselves. The administration, staff, employees, and residents are all doing their parts and doing them well. It is a source of great pride to both of us to live here. Life is about dealing with challenges. They aren’t always good ones, but we will survive, hopefully better and stronger, even if things don’t return to what they were. 

Our greatest, almost singular, hope throughout this crisis is to find ways to reduce the suffering of everyone adversely affected by it. Each day we talk about how we might do our part to help both now and in the future.  If the community, small and large, needs something we can help with, we are ready, willing and able to volunteer. We have plans of our own to do what we can.” 

Explore More of “Westport In Focus”

To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.