In the serene Hazel Wood Cemetery of Rahway, New Jersey, an out-of-this-world headstone commands attention. Resembling Han Solo trapped in carbonite from Star Wars, this unique monument commemorates the life of Bruce Perry Berman, a special effects animator, loving family man, and an individual with a penchant for the extraordinary.
Born on January 22, 1966, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Berman spent his early years in Wanamassa, near Asbury Park. He later lived in Westfield, New Jersey, and eventually moved to Nevada City, California, in 1993. Berman completed his Bachelor of Arts in Communications at Seton Hall Urniversity in 1988, where he was highly involved in various activities, including the Student Activities Board, serving as a resident assistant, and founding the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity that prohibited hazing .
After obtaining his Master's degree in computer animation from William Paterson College, Berman worked on national commercials and feature films at notable companies such as Sidley Wright Motion Works, Topix LA, and VIFX/Video Image, a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox. He also served as an adjunct graphics/animation professor at both Seton Hall University and William Paterson College.
Berman married his college sweetheart, Carolyn, in 1992. They welcomed their daughter, Andie Rose Berman (today Andie Rose Roberts), in 1996, only a few days after Berman was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Despite the challenges ALS posed, Berman was a fighter who maintained his sense of humor throughout his journey.
Berman's headstone, which has become a local curiosity, was his brainchild. He collaborated with his friend Rob Dressel to bring his vision to life. After obtaining special permission from the cemetery and working with a sculptor, the final product was ready. Carolyn couldn't be happier, stating, "I know he would love it. It is so perfect for who he was."
Interestingly, Berman's headstone features a URL (www.bermanimation.com), which has since expired. Fortunately, someone mirrored the site at www.bermanimation.net. This serves as a cautionary reminder for those considering including a URL on a monument: technology standards and subscription services may change over time, and websites may not be maintained indefinitely.
As we marvel at this interstellar tribute to Bruce Berman, let's remember the man behind the carbonite - a creative, loving, and humorous individual who left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who knew him. May the Force be with him, always. And may his digital memorial be a lesson for all of us navigating the delicate balance between technology and timeless remembrance.