Sumner Thurman Bernstein (1924 - 2002) grew up in Portland, Maine, the son of lawyer parents. He served in the South Pacific in the U.S. Army during World War II (achieving the rank of Captain) and attended Harvard University for his undergraduate education and for law school. He returned to Portland after marrying Rosalyne Spindel in 1949, to join his father and uncle’s law practice, which he helped to grow into Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson in 1964.

He was very engaged with the community, participating in the following organizations, among others, often serving as president or chair of these groups for a portion of his tenure: Portland City Council (1955-1961); Portland School Committee (1955-58); Portland Housing Authority; Downtown Portland Corporation; Maine State Bar Association; Maine Bar Foundation; Jewish Federation of Southern Maine; Temple Beth El; Maine Jewish Council; Jewish Community Center; National Council of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee; Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Portland YMCA; Maine Medical Center; Portland Public Library; and World Affairs Council of Maine. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maine School of Law from 1993-98 and was a member of their Board of Visitors, and he was an instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of the University of Southern Maine.

The Papers document his civic work and personal life. They include correspondence, newspaper clippings, and text of his speeches and talks. Of particular value are 25 folders of family correspondence dating from 1940 to 1945, which include letters covering Bernstein’s military training and World War II service.

Other records and reminiscences of his army service and Harvard education are present, as well. The Papers also include materials related to his final illness and death, including letters of sympathy and condolence, information about contributions made in his honor, obituaries, eulogies, and other tributes, and videos/cassettes of memorial services and other celebrations of his life. The Papers also include two albums – one documenting the 85-year history of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer, and Nelson and the other a collection of notes and photos compiled for The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine’s Evening to Honor Sumner and Rosalyne Bernstein (May 15, 2000).

Digitzed Items

Sumner T. Bernstein Correspondence


Browse the Sumner T. Bernstein Papers Collections:

Sumner T. Bernstein Correspondence