1945-2022

Bernard Oscar Zike passed away on the afternoon of May 23 at Maine Medical Center, from complications after a bicycle accident.

He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on June 13, shortly before his identical twin brother. Graduating from Brooklyn College, he then went on to pick up a master’s degree at Connecticut College and set about applying that degree teaching science at the high school level in New Haven, Conn. While there he met and married Lysbeth Andrews.

In 1977, Bernard established his own business, Able to Cane, picking up the rare skills of caning, rushing, and weaving of reed and splint for chair and furniture repair as he went along. In 1986, the small family moved to Maine, settling in Warren, where he set about remodeling his “older” house practically from the ground up with the assistance and guidance from his friend, Robert Littlehale. Able to Cane continued to thrive in his new shop, complete with wood stove, his favorite source of heat. An avid bicyclist, he peddled his old Raleigh all over town.

At the end of 2004, he and his newer companion in life, Marion, purchased a multiunit in Portland, allowing for a second location for the business and immediate access to the advantages of city living. By 2016, they downsized to a small home in Portland, and set up shop in the wood-paneled garage, with another wood stove. Though he did trade the Raleigh for an electric bike, he still managed to bike almost every day, rain, snow or shine, and took great joy in making the rounds of Harbor Fish, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods frequently, with green side baskets brimming full of seafood, fruits and vegetables.

How to describe Bernard…. his son, Nathaniel, says stubborn but very loving. Bernard often said that being a father was the best job he ever had and was quite proud of his son. His niece, Penny, remembers him being kind and honest with a mischievous smile. His cousin, Norman, cites his optimism, sense of humor and kindness. It is true that he never looked down, his eyes were always forward even if his feet got misplaced from time to time. He had the wry New Yorker take on life and could quote Seinfeld episodes. His compassion for the less-than-fortunate vibrated deep in his NPR- listening soul. Being his own boss meant never having to wear a watch and living life at his own pace. His deep but soft voice, infused with the traditional Brooklyn accent, will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his son, Nathaniel Zike, and his daughter-in-law, Lauren; his partner, Marion Puglisi; sister, Skippy Lober and her three children, Michael Lober, Penny Marcus and Jon Lober and their families; his former wife, Lysbeth Andrews; sister-in-law, Debbie Zike; as well as cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A celebration of life will come at a later time. When thinking about Bernard, please picture him riding a bike down the road with a big smile on his face.