September 3, 1922: Death of Bernard Silberstein

On this day in Duluth in 1922, merchant and civic leader Bernard Silberstein died at his home in Duluth. Silberstein was born in Budapest, Hungary, on March 4, 1848. He and his wife Nettie, along with brothers Asa and Henry Leopold, were Duluth’s first Jewish residents. Silberstein was the owner of Silberstein & Bondy Dry Goods, one of the Zenith City’s first retails businesses which would go on to become one of its longest lasting and most successful department stores. Silberstein served nearly 20 year on Duluth’s Park Board and for one term as Duluth’s Commissioner of Public Safety. Following Silberstein’s death, the American flag over city hall flew at half mast. Two Masonic Lodges held services in his honor, as did the Temple Emmanuel Synagogue, where his close friend Rabbi Maurice Lefkokitz said, “Bernard Silberstein was preeminently a man of peace, a lover of peace and a pursuer of peace. Always true to himself, never compromising in his conscience, fearless and persistent in what he deemed right and just, he was ever at peace with himself.” In his obituary, the Duluth News Tribune recognized his major contributions to the city’s park system: “With great foresight and optimistic as to the future of Duluth, he often advanced the money to the city for the purchase of park property. It was the cash that brought the best deals and in those early days the city had very little money with which to do any high financing. But he took a chance and advanced the money that Duluth might have a park system to be proud of.” Read more about this remarkable Duluthian here.

Bernard Silberstein. (Image: Duluth Public Library)