Camden County Commissioners have officially renamed a small section of Haddonfield-Berlin Road in Cherry Hill across from Platt Memorial Chapels as Mayor Bernie Platt Boulevard.
The change coincided the 90th birthday of Platt, longtime funeral director and twice mayor of the township in separate terms. He has a long history of service in Cherry Hill: Besides serving as mayor from 1979 to 1980 and again from 2002 to 2012, Platt was deputy mayor from 1976 to 1979, a councilman from 1977 to 1985 and a Camden County Freeholder from 1996 to 1998.
When Platt’s son Harry approached the county commissioners about renaming the street for his father, they were enthused.
“Bernie is someone I have known for the last 35 years and someone that I know has always been dedicated and committed to making our community a better place,” Commissioner Jeffrey Nash said of Platt, a funeral director for nearly 50 years.
“Bernie’s contributions to Cherry Hill and Camden County are second to none, and Sunday’s ceremony will be fitting for an individual and a family that have provided their resources and time to build a better community for all of us.”
The renaming plans quickly came together and were a surprise to Platt and his wife Judy until the street’s unveiling on a cold and windy Jan. 7. The commissioners were joined by Harry Platt and Mayor David Fleisher.
For Camden County Commissioner Melinda Kane, the event was especially touching: She first met Platt in his capacity as a funeral director who supported her when her husband died, and again after her son Jeremy, a Marine, was killed in Afghanistan.
“It’s the worst of times when people go to him, and I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative,” Kane noted, “and that says a tremendous amount about the entire family actually.
” … He was there in the capacity from (Platt) Memorial Chapels, but also as mayor, and he was just unbelievably supportive, kind and generous that week in assisting me with dealing with the Marines and bureaucracy and in helping to honor my son.”
As mayor, Platt oversaw the township’s rapid population growth, the redevelopment of the former Garden State Park Racetrack and the extension of Cherry Hill Mall, as well as a $1-billion investment in the Haddonfield Road corridor, according to a county press release.
Platt and his family have been active members of the Jewish community in South Jersey for 40 years. He is currently a member of the board of directors for the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey and has served as a past president and board member of the Jewish Geriatric Home, among other roles. He and his wife also founded the first chapter of the Jewish National Fund in South Jersey.
“For all of us to honor Bernie while he is able to see his appreciation for his life,” Kane remarked, “it was really amazing.”