Judge Bernard C. Muszynski, retired, 92, of Orlando and Kissimmee, passed away peacefully Monday Oct 25 attended by his wife Julie and his four children. He was born May 20, 1929, in Bayonne, NJ to Alexander and Mary Muszynski, moving to Orlando as a teen with his father and three older brothers. After graduation from Orlando High School in 1947, Bernard entered the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY on an academic scholarship. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelors of Nautical Science, an unlimited US Coast Guard license as a Third Mate, and a US Naval Reserve officer's commission.
Bernard then travelled the world as a Third Mate on American cargo ships. In 1952, due to the Korean War, he activated his commission as a US Navy reserve officer. He was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as a shipboard Navy liaison on ships transiting the Canal. After the end of the Korean War and release from active duty, Bernard and his wife, Winifred, and son, Kenneth, returned to Florida. Bernard went back to sea as a merchant marine officer for a time before entering the University of Fl College of Law with a view toward a legal career as more suitable to family life, which by then included daughter Karen. Bernard's experience as a merchant marine and naval officer provided him with a stock of life lessons and a strong sense of duty that defined his approach to life.
Bernard graduated from law school in 1958 and was admitted to the Florida Bar on November 6 of that year, shortly after the birth of son Alexander. Bernard began the practice of law in Orlando as an associate with Giles, Hedrick & Robinson, and in 1960, opened his own law firm in downtown Orlando. A third son, James, followed in 1963. Seeing ways in which the court system could be made fairer, more efficient, and faster-moving for the benefit of parties before it and the public at large, Bernard ran for Circuit Judge in 1966 but suffered defeat.
Less than two years later though, Bernard was appointed Circuit Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Orange and Osceola counties by Fl Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr. He was sworn in on October 7, 1968. In a unique legal situation he was elected to the same office less than one month later. In the following two decades, he was decisively reelected in 1972 and then reelected without opposition in later election years. While Chief Judge of the Circuit for three years, Judge Muszynski pioneered reforms to the court administration both locally and statewide that helped to speed up judicial processes and make the judiciary more accountable for their performance in office. Judge Muszynski also had the honor to serve by temporary designation as an Associate Judge of the Fourth District Court of Appeals and as an Associate Justice of the Fl Supreme Court.
Bernard remained a Circuit Judge until his retirement in 1990, after which he returned to the practice of law in Orlando, then Kissimmee, serving as a mediator, personal attorney, appointed special counsel, and in numerous other roles. He had the opportunity to represent a client whose case wound up before the Fl Supreme Court and changed long standing Florida case law (Owens v. Publix). In Kissimmee, he met and married Julie Weinberger, an attorney in active practice in Kissimmee. Bernard continued as a member of the Florida Bar before fully retiring in early 2021.
Bernard loved his family and spent as much time as possible with them. His major outside interests were travelling, reading aviation and WW II history, becoming a private pilot and restoring and flying his classic Navion aircraft. A highlight of his retirement travels involved his daughter Karen and son James, when they all attended the 55th anniversary memorial of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Over the years Bernard explored US seaport cities, enjoyed the Reno Air Races, entertained friends and family at home and on the road, and attended numerous US Merchant Marine Academy reunions.
Bernard was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers, Edward, John, and Alexander. He is survived by his wife, Julie Weinberger Muszynski, his four children, Kenneth, Karen, Alexander fiance Andrea Ribeiro and James Muszynski and their mother, Winifred Muszynski, and by stepson, Joshua Weinberger, and stepdaughter Morgan Weinberger Sarafan and husband, Andrew Sarafan, and their children Jacob and Violet.
A funeral mass was held for Bernard on October 30 at St. James Cathedral and he was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando. In lieu of flowers, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the US Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation in memory of Judge of Bernard C. Muszynski, Class of '51. Please make your check payable to "USMMA AAF" (Tax ID# 11-6037948) with MUSZYNSKI '51 in the memo/note section or mail to 300 Steamboat Road, Kings Point, NY 11024, or make a donation online at www.usmmaalumni.com > Giving > Make a Donation. NOTE: Please make certain the "Alumini Association and Foundation" is on the check or made online to that department.
The family of Judge Bernard C. Muszynski invites you to a celebration of his life. At his specific request, a celebration will take place in both Kissimmee and Orlando. The first will be held on Monday, November 15th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Historic Osceola County Courthouse, 3rd Floor Courtroom, 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee, with a second gathering in Orlando on Wednesday, November 17th at the Orange County Regional History Center, Courtroom B, 65 East Central Blvd., from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. These locations hold a special place in the legal career of Judge Muszynski and we ask you to join us in his honor with remarks beginning at 5:30 PM. Please RSVP and you may direct any questions to: email@example.com.