Retiree Spotlight

Meet Bernard Clarfield

Bernard Clarfield

A room full of chunky machines and wires; Bernie was immediately hooked when he walked into the data processing department for the first time. 

After that day, Bernie switched from being an office clerk to pursue a career in computer systems and he’s been the “Computer Guy” ever since.  Now in his retirement, Bernie teaches library patrons how to use technology and loves every minute of it.

Time at Pfizer

Bernie joined Pfizer, N.Y.  in 1976 as a junior IBM operator. He had previously worked at Asiatic Petroleum Corporation, bringing with him a strong background in computer systems.

In his earlier career, he wired control panels in punch card equipment, also known as tabulating machines.  Technology advanced and he soon worked on programmable computers.  “At Pfizer, I wrote computer programs for clients,” said Bernie. “A client would tell us the information they needed; I would access the databases and use computer languages to develop the program.”  These programs, or applications, made it easier for clients to do specified tasks such as accounting or inventory. 

One of the first projects he worked on was building the conversion of paper tax forms into computer-accessible forms. “It was a big deal,” said Bernie. “I enjoyed the challenge and technical aspect. ”  He had to learn many programing languages for mainframe computers such as Assembler language, Fortran, COBOL and IBM Advanced Function printing languages.

Staying on top of the new computer languages was high on Bernie’s list.  He took many professional courses to sharpen his computer expertise.  Bernie enjoyed the learning aspect of his job to keep up with the new technology and skills to be successful.

Bernie truly enjoyed his 38-year-career building applications at Pfizer. “I loved the job and going to work, even when I had to work on the weekends!”

Continuing to Learn

In 1996, Bernie retired but didn’t stop sharing his technical expertise and desire to learn.

Bernie moved to Palm City, Fl., from New York after he retired.  While there, he turned his focus to toward earning a bachelor’s degree.   He took classes at Indian River Community College and first earned his associates degree in science, instructional services technology.

He received his bachelor’s degree in library information technology in December 2004. But he didn’t stop there.  Seven years later he graduated from Florida State University with a master’s degree in instructional systems with a major in distance learning. “I enjoy learning new things. I’ve always been that way,” said Bernie.

His latest learning endeavor is to become a pilot. He is taking the ground test to see if he can pass. “Who knows,” he says. “Maybe I’ll be able to fly one day.”

Not only does Bernie have a passion for learning, but also for teaching.

“The experience of teaching people is the greatest thing there is,” said Bernie.  

Bernie teaches Blake Library patrons how to use iPads and tablets and how to use the e-book service, Overdrive.  His students meet every Thursday night for Bernie’s technology teachings. He describes his teaching style as open-dialogue and believes there is no such thing as a stupid question.  

Alongside his library gig, Bernie teaches part-time at technical and adult education schools at classes in computer technology and photography.

Throughout his pursuit of knowledge and teaching, he was supported by his sons, Robert and Stewart, as well as his late-wife of 46 years, who fought bone cancer.

“I’m very lucky to have had the chance to pursue my education and share my knowledge,” said Bernie. “You’re never too old to stop learning or giving.”

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