Allen Rosenshine: Bernice Kanner Lived Life to its Fullest

TRIBUTE: BBDO Chief Recalls Columnist's Spirit, Passion, Personal Legacy

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In remembering Bernice Kanner, it would no doubt be repetitious to cite her many professional achievements as an exceptional journalist, writer, marketing innovator, advertising commentator, and insightful observer of consumer and social behavior. (The only blemish I can think of on her otherwise wonderful career was her generously inaccurate description of me as "lean and lithe" in an article she wrote some 25 years ago, when in fact I have been neither for twice that long. It remained a joke between us.)

No, instead of her career, I'd rather think of Bernice as the very close friend she was to me and my wife, Missy. In fact, we introduced Bernice to her husband, David, a lifelong friend of Missy's family. Just a few weeks later, much to our astonishment, they were engaged. It seemed incredible to us that Bernice, a highly extroverted, amazingly energetic liberal and liberated woman of the New York media scene, and David, a scholarly, reserved, financially oriented businessman brought up and educated in England, should hit if off so quickly, much less at all.

bubbling with ideas

Happily, they did, and every time we were with them over the ensuing years, we took great pleasure seeing them together in their obviously loving and caring marriage. As different as their backgrounds were, they always seemed to understand, respect and complement each other.

David said to me that perhaps Bernice had a premonition that she might not live very long, which he said could explain the extraordinary kinetic energy, both mental and physical, with which she seemed to live every day, bubbling with ideas, launching projects, reading yet another book from the pile that awaited her, always ready for a game of Scrabble or just about anything that would challenge her intellect, her competitive spirit and her passion to be involved in the world around her.

But frankly, I think David is wrong about that. I'm sure that even if Bernice knew she would live to be 100, she wouldn't have slowed down in the slightest. I'd bet every day of her life would have been no less full, rich and rewarding to her and those around her. It's a great sadness that she will not have those years, and that David, their children and all of us will not have them to share with her. But it was an equal joy to have seen her live every moment of the years she had.

Allen Rosenshine is chairman, BBDO Worldwide.
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