Bernard J. Gartlan, known as Ben and Bernie to many friends, died peacefully on June 6, 2020, at age 82, in an assisted living facility in Madison, New Jersey. Bernard was the first born to proud parents Philip and Katherine Gartlan, originally of County Monaghan, Ireland, who presided for decades over a close-knit, blue-collar family of five children in the Bronx, NY. Ben attended St. Benedict’s Elementary School and St. Helena’s High School in the Bronx, and graduated from Manhattan College in 1959 with a B.A. in English.
Ben was industriously employed during his high school and college years, variously clerking at the neighborhood pharmacy, hawking refreshments at baseball games at Yankee Stadium, and working with the United States Postal Service during his college years. While in college he committed to six-years of service in the US Army National Guard and subsequently performed his active duty with the Guard from 1962-65, including assignments at Fort Dix, New Jersey and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
After college, Ben joined the US Civil Service Commission, an agency charged with ensuring that government employees were selected and promoted based on merit and that candidates for sensitive government positions met appropriate security standards. Following the enactments of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Ben monitored polling stations in several states to promote the laudable goal of enabling all American citizens the right to exercise the constitutional right to vote.
In the mid-1960s, Bernie transferred to the Civil Service Commission headquarters in Washington D.C., where he served for decades in supervisory positions within the Commission and its successor agency, the Office of Personnel Management. He resided in Alexandria, Virginia most of his adult life, including most of the retirement years.
Bernie was an avid reader throughout his lifetime, a knowledgeable sports fan, and an enthusiastic supporter of the performing arts. He developed a life-long love of American jazz music while in college, attending avant garde clubs in New York City in the 1950s-60s. He enthusiastically continued his patronage of the arts and love of jazz in the Washington D.C. area with his long-term partner Sarah Overbagh.
Bernie and Sarah were active members of the community at the Aldersgate Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Sarah preceded Bernie in death, and he will be interred with her at the Aldersgate Church at a future date.
Ben is beloved and fondly remembered as a very tall, witty, personable, and modest gentleman who enjoyed good conversation and repartee, was kind and caring to animals, was generous and loyal to family and friends, and who lived a life of dedicated service to his country.
Ben is survived by his siblings Francis, Eileen, Philip, and Peter; brother-in-law John Valentine; sisters-in-law Diana Ramsey and Carol Anthony-Gartlan; niece Elizabeth Vukovic-Gartlan, her husband Danilo Vukovic, and their children Mia, Luka, and Liam; and nephew David Valentine and his wife Jennifer Valentine.