An American Friends of Magen David Adom ambulance was dedicated on Oct. 16 in the names of Frances and Bernard Nenner of Parkland.
Bernard, 104, and Frances, 96, donated $100,000 to the American Friends of Magen David Adom Aston Gardens chapter, which Bernard Nenner founded seven years ago with a few other residents of the retirement community.
“Every time you pick up a newspaper, you read about killing and murder [in Israel],” Bernard Nenner said. “Instead of the money laying in the bank and paying no interest, I could do something with the money for a good cause.”
Nenner, who grew up poor and went to work at the age of 15, owned dry cleaning businesses in New York and mobile home parks in South Florida.
He attended Bay Ridge Evening High School in Brooklyn for six months but had to drop out because of the long hours at work. Nenner said he is self-educated. “I was always interested in books,” he said. A shelf in his home office contains mysteries by authors Michael Connelly, John Grisham and James Patterson. He said he also likes biographies.
His love of books, Nenner said, is behind his volunteer work caring for the library at Aston Gardens.
At the age of 104, Nenner walks without a cane. His handshake is strong; his hearing sharp.
He said that when he was 50 years old, he went to a doctor and was told he had a cholesterol level of 304. Following the doctor’s diet, Nenner brought his cholesterol down to 200. He said he stopped eating a lot of meat and partially hydrogenated fats, and learned about food and nutrition.
Now he eats oatmeal daily, as well as chicken and fish. For years he drank a glass of red wine with dinner, although he can’t anymore because of the medication he takes, Nenner said.
The slim Nenner said he “watches himself.” That, and “luck and a sense of humor” have helped Nenner, the oldest of five children, survive three siblings. He and a sister are the only ones left, he said.
Fritz Froelich, 85, immediate past president of the Aston Gardens chapter of AFMDA, said Nenner is “an amazing individual; his clarity of mind is tremendous.”
Froelich said Nenner has made “significant other contributions” besides the ambulance through the Aston Gardens chapter of AFMDA, and has been an officer and served on the chapter’s board of directors.
“He’s a very generous person. Call him a philanthrop,” Ferdi Baler, 77, current chapter president, said about Nenner.
Nenner’s daughter Elissa Silverberg said in a phone call from Queens, New York, that her father has always given generously to Jewish causes, often along with his family, and to American Friends of Magen David Adom in particular.
Joel Silberman, AFMDA chapter services director, said Nenner has worked to raise money from birthday cards and certificates for other projects, such as a first aid station at Beit She’an.
The Aston Gardens AFMDA chapter has raised more than $380,000 over its seven years. It counts about 60 life members, more than any other AFMDA chapter in the country, among its 110 members, Silberman said.