Juliet Bernstein Remembered

By: Tim Wood

Juliet Bernstein. COURTESY PHOTO 

CHATHAM – One of Juliet Bernstein's most cherished memories was accompanying her mother in a horse-drawn surrey so that she could cast her first vote after the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

"I was 7 but it truly impressed me," Mrs. Bernstein said in a 2020 interview. That experience helped shape a dedication to equality and social justice that followed her through her long life.

Mrs. Bernstein, the town's oldest resident, passed away Thursday, Nov. 18, at the age of 108.

In the years since she moved to Chatham in 1971, Mrs. Bernstein was something of a conscience of the town, taking on institutions like the Chatham Band, where she challenged the exclusion of female musicians, and issues such as nuclear proliferation, sponsoring a bylaw to make the town a nuclear-free zone. She championed peace and civil rights, and in 2019 she was named the Mercy Warren Otis Cape Cod Women of the Year.

“She was an inspiration,” said Tony Guthrie, who helped organize a 108th birthday party for Mrs. Bernstein last summer.

Mrs. Bernstein worked as a teacher in New York City and moved to Chatham with her husband Selig after retiring in 1971. No longer able to afford the increasing amount of care she required, her son Bruce helped her start a Go Fund Me campaign in June to raise money so that she could remain in her home in the her final months. The community responded and the funds raised covered most of the cost of what became round-the-clock care recently.

Last week, The Chronicle published a guest editorial that she dictated to her son in which she remembered growing up on a farm in New York and thanked the attendants who were caring for her.

An expanded version of this story will appear in Thursday's edition.