Benjamin Bernei Burgunder Jr. passed away peacefully at home on July 8, exactly two months after his wife, Amelie Burgunder, died. Bernei was born to B. Bernei Burgunder Sr. and Selma Kann Burgunder on Sept. 17, 1920, in Baltimore. He attended Baltimore Friends School and then Dartmouth College and the Tuck Business School. Bernei was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II, serving in the Pacific as supply officer for the 7th Fleet. He married Amelie Banov, also of Baltimore, on Feb. 16, 1947, and shortly after, they moved to the Washington area, where they lived for more than 70 years.
Bernei Burgunder ran the S. Kann Sons Company department stores, a long-time family business, in Washington and Arlington until the company was sold in 1971. Bernei was a supporter of civil rights in the D.C. department store business. Under his leadership, Kann’s became one of the first department stores to cross the color barrier among store salespersons, to integrate the lunch counter and dressing rooms, and to introduce black mannequins in display windows.
Today the U.S. Naval Memorial sits on the site of the downtown store, and a campus of George Mason University is located where the Arlington store previously operated.
Bernei served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including his most recent role with the Lisner Home in Washington. He also assisted other community-based organizations, engaging as a volunteer tutor with D.C. Public Schools. Bernei will be greatly missed by his three children, Ellen Burgunder Harter (of Potomac, with K. William Harter), Kay Burgunder Stevens (of Chevy Chase) and Lee Burgunder (of San Luis Obispo, Calif., with Susan Burgunder); his grandchildren, Britten Harter, Tristan Harter, Sam Stevens, Chris Stevens, Ben Stevens, Brittany Burgunder and Kasey Burgunder; and his great-grandchildren, Celeste Harter and Sidney Harter.