John Joseph Bernet, later called the “Doctor of Sick Railroads” is an example of someone who took their business skills and achieved measureable success. Throughout his successful career, Bernet made sure to be charitable and humble. Keep reading to learn more about this intelligent figure!
John Joseph Bernet was born on February 9, 1868 in Brant, New York. His father, Bernard Bernet, was a blacksmith and at a young age John became an apprentice at his father’s shop. However, the pairing wasn’t meant to be, as John was not as skilled at the craft as his father. Seeing that he needed to explore other career options, Bernet developed his telegraphy skills and was eventually hired to work for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway in 1889. It wasn’t long before Bernet worked his way up through various positions and became a Vice President for the New York Central Railroad, controlling all the lines west of Buffalo. But this was only the beginning for Bernet.
In 1916, Bernet was asked to lead the Nickel Plate Railroad. Under his leadership, the railroad experienced massive success. This was largely due to upgrades proposed by Bernet which included doubling the total freight capacity and doubling speed while simultaneously cutting fuel costs. After leaving the Nickel Plate Railroad in 1926, Bernet became president of the Erie Railroad. Again, the railroad experienced much success due to his innovative cost-cutting measures. During the Great Depression, Bernet was brought on as President of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and with his leadership the company actually experienced a profit in the midst of the Great Depression, and even paid dividends in 1932.
Bernet held this position for only a short time, however, as in 1933 he returned as President of the Nickel Plate Railroad. He remained president until his death in 1935. He passed away in his home in Cleveland, OH and is buried in Calvary Cemetery (Sec #78, Lot #2) Bernet was a man of strong faith and is noted for his charitable giving. In fact, Bernet was involved in the construction of the dormitories at John Carroll University. So much so, that the first residence hall was named Bernet Hall in his honor. Bernet is a wonderful example of someone who used their business acumen and followed a passion to serve God and others.
Post written by Katie Karpinski