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Bernrieder, William A. | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Bernrieder, William A.

Historical Note:

William Anton Bernrieder was born on June 22, 1900. He attended St. Joseph School in 1906, then Annunciation Church School. He then attended St. Thomas College (now St. Thomas High School) after a period at St. Mary's Seminary. William Bernrieder completed three years of law school at Houston Law School.

In 1923, William Bernrieder began six years of service to Oscar Holcombe, the mayor of Houston. During this time he began his work toward having a ship in the U.S. Navy named after Houston. In 1927 he was appointed to the Cruiser Houston Committee, which coordinated the drive towards obtaining a cruiser named "Houston." Thousands of letters and telegrams were sent to Washington as part of the crusade, which was successful. A heavy cruiser named for the city of Houston was launched on Sept. 7, 1927. Once Bernrieder and the other members of the committee had succeeded in having a ship named for the city, the committee worked toward supporting the ship and its crew through gifts and other means.

From 1930 to 1933 Bernrieder served as the assistant to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. As part of his duties, he accompanied Byrd on a nationwide speaking tour. During this period, however, Bernrieder paid careful attention to the Cruiser Houston and continued to be involved in supporting the vessel.

Bernrieder was also involved in politics, serving as Executive Secretary for local arrangements for the National Democratic Convention, held in Houston in 1928. He was also involved in arrangements for President Franklin Roosevelt's trip to Houston in 1936.

Receiving his commission in 1926, Bernrieder served for 22 years in the Naval Reserve. He spent five years on active duty with the Navy during World War II, serving on the staffs of five admirals.

Following World War II Bernrieder was involved in the real estate business in Houston, although he continued his interest in the history of the USS Houston (CA-30), which had been lost in the Battle of Sunda Strait on Feb. 28/March 1, 1942. Bernrieder collected information related to the history of the ship as well as efforts to retrieve items from the sunken vessel.

Bernrieder died on October 18, 1993.

Note Author: Andrea Bean Hough

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