Stanley Bernstein was born on Jan. 13, 1924, the son of Rose (Lipsky) Bernstein and Joseph Bernstein (Russian immigrant). He was reunited with his beloved parents and brother Allan on Dec. 6.
He was a decorated World II Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He received a business degree from Bryant College in Smithfield.
His rich, respected and impactful professional career was noteworthy, not only by his significant contributions to the revitalization and revival of downtown Providence, but also by his integrity. His service was recognized by proclamations of honor from three different mayors (Doorley, Cianci, Paolino), as well as numerous governors and other local and state officials. He was a modest man, and did not speak about his accomplishments. However, he earned the respect of everyone with proof that old-fashioned hard work, dedication, and the highest degree of ethical professionalism can get the job done to enact positive change.
Bernstein served for 36 years at the Providence Redevelopment Agency with his last 11 years as its executive director. He quickly rose through the ranks there from accountant to office manager in 1950 to deputy director of the Department of Planning and Urban Development and secretary of the Providence Redevelopment Agency in 1967. In 1975, he was appointed executive director of the PRA as well as director of the Department of Planning and Urban Development. He was also director of the City Plan Commission, general manager of the Providence Off-Street Parking Authority, and executive director of the Capital Center Commission (1986-1994).
He helped transform downtown Providence from a virtual ghost town to a thriving economic metropolis. He was executive director of the largest development project ever undertaken in Rhode Island, which transformed acres of downtown Providence. Bernstein was responsible for relocating two rivers with plans for the Riverwalk, renovating the old train station complex, and constructing a new Amtrak station including retail and restaurants. He made the Providence Place Mall possible, which was the first major shopping mall in the downtown area, as well as ushering in major hotels, office and residential buildings.
Bernstein also served more than five years as an adjunct instructor of urban studies at Brown University, as well as on the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Council.
After 45 years of public service, Bernstein semi-retired to Brevard County Florida in 1994 where he was the president of the Suntree Master Association. Even as late as several months ago, Bernstein was actively assisting with his wife’s long-term care management business, while also finding time for family and friends.
He enjoyed his favorite weekly bowling group, along with its dinner outings. Bernstein had the unique gift of raising everyone’s spirit. His example will be missed by the many he touched and influenced. Through his last days, he was truly the Superman that everyone revered.
He is survived by his wife Catherine, his son Gary, his daughter Amy, his stepson Matthew, and five beloved grandchildren, Joshua, Ryan, Jessica, MacKenzie and Jack, and the new light of his life, great-granddaughter Rose.
There will be a celebration of life ceremony in Melbourne, Florida, on Jan. 13, which would have been his 94th birthday.