Leonard A. Bernheimer, 1941-2024, US Squash Hall of Famer And Former US Squash President   
by Rob Dinerman

photo US Squash

Dateline March 29, 2024 --- DSR is sad to report the passing of US Squash Hall of Famer and former (from 1984-86) US Squash President Leonard A. Bernheimer, universally known as Lenny, this past Tuesday. He was 82 years old and had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January. He is survived by Marilyn “Lyn” Bernheimer, his wife of more than 60 years, his children Jonathan (the 1990 Intercollegiate Individuals squash champion) and Beth, siblings Walter, Robert and Susie and seven grandchildren.

Although Bernheimer’s 60-plus years as a devoted (and highly successful) squash player began in the early 1960’s at Williams College, where he discovered the game and swiftly rose to the top of the varsity, it wasn’t until the early 1970’s --- after returning to his native Massachusetts following his graduation from Stanford Business School --- that he started making a substantial impact on the regional and national amateur tournament circuit. He earned a number of top-10 national rankings, won the Middlesex Bowl (an important Massachusetts SRA tournament) several times, played No. 1 on Boston’s teams in the Lockett Cup (an annual tri-city competition with teams from New York and Philadelphia) and captured the Massachusetts State Open Championship in 1987. Within a few weeks of that latter accomplishment, he and Sandy Tierney nearly won the Open Division of the US National Doubles. They out-lasted Jay Umans and Paul Assaiante in a five-game semifinal while Scott Ryan and Rich Sheppard were doing the same to Tom Poor and Jamie Barrett in a tension-filled Sunday morning in which five of those 10 games were decided by two points or less. In the final, Bernheimer and Tierney, bidding to become the first-ever all-Boston team winners of this championship, eked out an 18-16 fourth game and sharp-shot their way to an 11-9 lead in the fifth before Ryan and Sheppard  were able to win the final six points.

Although Bernheimer came up just short in that final, he won several dozen national age-group titles in singles and doubles over the course of a 43-year period that began when he won the US 35-and-over hardball singles in 1981 and extended all the way through the US National Century Doubles 80-and-over crown that he and Kush Kumar won in January 2024, just 65 days before Bernheimer’s death. His 1981 35’s final was over Poor (reversing the outcome of the 1980 35’s final), with whom Bernheimer had a rivalry in singles and a simultaneous partnership in doubles --- as well as in their co-running of the Boston Open, one of the most prestigious stops on first the WPSA pro singles tour and later the SDA pro doubles tour --- that lasted more than three decades and encompassed 12 of the 17 U. S. National age-group doubles championships that Bernheimer won during the 32-year period from 1991-2023. Fittingly in light of how closely associated the pair became with each other, both were inducted into the US Squash Hall of Fame at the same ceremony in 2012, 19 years after Bernheimer received the President’s Cup, the highest individual US Squash citizenship award, in 1993.

In addition to his achievements as a right-wall doubles player and in hardball singles, Bernheimer won multiple national age-group titles in softball, in which discipline he represented the US in both the 1977 Maccabiah Games in Israel (where he and teammates Dave Linden and Glen Whitman won a silver medal) and, several months later, in the biennial World Team Championships in Ottawa. He also was highly active in squash administratively on a number of varied fronts, including as President of four important entities --- namely US Squash (known at the time as the United States Squash Racquets Association), the Jesters, the Massachusetts Squash Racquets Association and the University Club of Boston --- and as the first Chairman of the Board of SquashBusters throughout the 11-year period from 1995-2006. He served in all these capacities while having a long and distinguished career as owner and president of United Lithograph, an innovative commercial printing company in Somerville, MA. Lenny Bernheimer has been a beloved figure throughout the squash world for more than half a century, universally respected and admired as a leader, friend and mentor, and he will be sorely missed.

Lenny with Kush Kumar

Lenny with Gil Mateer

Lenny with Tom Poor