RAPAPORT... Joe Bernstein, the former senior vice president of Kay Jewelers, passed away peacefully and comfortably on September 8, 2012 at Avow Hospice in Naples, Florida from pneumonia-related complications. Bernstein is survived by his wife of 20 years, Julie Klement, two children, Michael and Amy, and five grandchildren.
He spent 40 years in the jewelry industry and touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of current and future key people in the jewelry industry. Bernstein's career in the jewelry industry began in 1955, when he joined The Jewel Box in Johnson City, Tennessee. In 1963, Bernstein moved on to Zale Jewelers in Indianapolis, where he worked until 1966. From 1967 to 1980 he was hired as the executive vice president of Gray’s Jewelers in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 1980, Bernstein became president of J.B. Hudson Jewelers in Minneapolis, where he worked until 1983 and then he joined Kay Jewelers as senior vice president in charge of all merchandising related divisions.
Bernstein was with Kay’s for the seven years, playing a key role in the accelerated growth of the jeweler. When Kay’s was acquired by Sterling in 1990, he moved on to Best Products as vice president of merchandising.