Our View: Juliet Bernstein


Over the half century that Juliet Bernstein called Chatham home, she created a legacy that few can match. An activist most of her adult life, she came to town with no plans to make waves, but in many ways she couldn't help herself, and where she saw discrimination and injustice, she spoke out. Mrs. Bernstein, who died last week at 108, left the community a better place.

Her many accomplishments have been detailed often: forcing the Chatham Band to admit women; spearheading a drive to make the town a nuclear-free zone; advocating for peace, justice and equality, even when those positions were unpopular. But she was also a wife, a mother, a teacher and a friend to many people in the community. As her friend Nancy Erskine said, Mrs. Bernstein loved to laugh, and her comments were often punctuated with a chuckle. The many things she saw during her long life – the invention of television, computers and the internet, two World Wars, economic depressions great and small, the Civil Rights and Women's rights movements – informed her views and sense of fairness and justice that she lived.

We could all learn a lot from the example of Juliet Bernstein's life. And we are all the richer for having known her and had her as a member of our community.