Leo M. Bernstein (1915-2008) was a Washington, D.C. real estate broker, banker and philanthropist with a keen interest in American history and a deep devotion to democracy and to democratic institutions.
The son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, he believed fervently in the American Dream—and he lived it. He believed strongly in this country’s ideals—the values embedded in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights–and he sought to put them into practice in his own life. He took great pride in his country, and he celebrated its presidents and the opportunities it had afforded him.
Mr. Bernstein’s legacy exists not in the things he collected but in the democratic ideals he fought for and achieved for society at large: open housing, gender equality, racial and social justice. Even today, there are lessons to be learned from the life of Leo B. Bernstein, as society continues to struggle with some of the same issues he encountered during his 93 years of life.