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Jeffrey Bernard MAT ’71

He had been called the da Vinci of Ashland, Oregon, a creator who perfectly blended the best qualities of “right” and “left” brain. A true Renaissance man, Jeffrey mastered sculpting in Italy and boat building in the Netherlands, and had a career as a software engineer and applications architect.

A native of the Boston area, he was offered scholarships to Harvard and Yale, chose the latter, and graduated in 1970 having studied engineering and economics. The following year, he earned a master’s degree in teaching at Reed.

Jeffrey wanted to learn how to build boats; rather than take a class, he traveled to Holland and studied with master boat builders. He started out sweeping the floors, then sanded wood. One day his boss told him, “Go fix my daughter’s sailboat. Part of the hull is rotted.” After working in the shop for five years, Jeffrey knew how to build a boat. He then moved to Italy to begin an apprenticeship in sculpting marble, pounding stone with a wooden mallet and antique chisel. He worked at an antiquated marble quarry in Carrara, where all the heavy roughing out of marble blocks was still done by hand, and worked in several sculpture studios in Pietrasanta, carving figurative, decorative, ornamental, and architectural sculptures in marble.

In 1972, he moved to Ashland and met his wife, Debbie Hansen-Bernard. With some buddies from Yale, he bought a large piece of land on Dead Indian Memorial Road, later donating half of it to the Nature Conservancy.

As a sculptor, Jeffrey was a major contributor to Ashland’s art and history. For Lithia Park, he restored the Butler-Perozzi Fountain and its crowning Cupid statue, and sculpted the missing head of the Abraham Lincoln statue. Both triggered a rebirth of interest in public art, drawing big crowds at their rededications. He also sculpted the bronze gargoyle for the fountain formerly in front of the Black Swan Theatre.

Jeffrey worked as a software engineer for Plexis Healthcare Systems, as a technical architect for Harry and David Corporation, and as a software product applications architect at Accenture in Ashland.

Reminiscing at their 20-acre Little Creek Ranch off Siskiyou Boulevard, Debbie said, “He would master one thing and move onto the next. He could think out any problem and would draw plans and put it together. He just had one of those brains. He was a kite-flying, marble-sculpting, rollerblading, sky-diving, boat-building, fly-fishing son of a gun.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2018

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