Bernie Schwartz

Bernie Schwartz Obituary

Bernard F. Schwartz, Jr., known in the R/C hydroplane racing world as “Battlin’ Bernie”, passed away October 11, 2010 in hospital in Novi, Michigan. He was 68. Those who knew Bernie loved him. Quick-witted and a master modeler, Bernie not only built and raced his own boats for the UD/RC circuit, he also had a hand in building or helping to build boats for most of the other racers.

The stories about Bernie from that era nearly 40 years ago are many. Matt Devine, one of Bernie’s dear friends, remembers:

“Before many of us unlimited hydroplane racing fans met Bernie for the first time, we were attempting to put together an R/C model-unlimited-hydro racing circuit. Hank had his Miss U.S. 1 up and running, but the rest of us were stuggling to get a boat onto the water and to run more than a lap at a time. So, in the Horace Dodge Pit Tower at what was probably a Unlimiteds Detroit meeting in about 1970, Bernie and Don Gold showed up, introduced themselves, and showed us their ready-to-race Maverick and Thriftway Too. All of a sudden, we had a racing circuit. And the times we had with that, and with each other for years thereafter.

“And the Friday or Saturday nights when we’re in the basement of his house talking about boat racing, boat racing, and more boat racing while Bernie whittled a cowl for one of us. And if Bennie started to glue or paint something, there would be the voice of his mom from upstairs: “Bernie, are you painting again”? And with a sheepish grin, he’d reply “No Mas.” Then we’d hear “God damn, ? #+!*&*, I knew it, I can’t breathe, ...” and Bernie and the rest of us would be busting a gut trying not to laugh.

“Or the Halloween party in which Bernie came as a mummy? Unfortunately, by the time he got from the car to the door the wrappings were half off, and Bernie led a hearty round of laughs. Rest in peace, big man. You were a good friend to all of us.”

Jeff Dunn, another Bernie Schwartz fan, writes:

“Where do I begin? I have so many great memories of Bernie. The man could really tell a story. My favorite one he told was camping “near” the railroad tracks. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it. He always had us in stitches. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage from those stories over the years. Bernie was a great guy with a big heart and really cared about others. Bernie... my next shower song will be ‘Thanks for the Memories’. RIP. Jeff.”

All of Unlimiteds Detroit sends its deepest sympathies to Bernie’s sister, Linda, and the family. Goodbye, Bern, we loved you.

[Reprinted from Thunderboat, December 2010]