Lerner was born in 1926 in New York City. He was a sergeant in the Army Air Corp in World War II and served in Germany. After returning, he studied engineering and physics at the City College of New York.
Lerner was a successful entrepreneur, businessman, and inventor, with over 60 patents. Along with his brother, Hershey Lerner, he founded Automated Packaging Systems. In 1962 Automated moved from Long Island, to Hudson, Ohio.
Under the Lerner brother's leadership, Automated grew into a global company with ten factories around the world. In 2012, they were inducted into the Packaging Hall of Fame. Lerner continued working at Automated as CEO until after his 92nd birthday, when it was acquired by Sealed Air in 2019.
In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations to the Hudson Community Foundation/Lerner Family Fund for Body, Mind, and Spirit at https://hudson.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1150.