Bernie received his call to eternal life on November 20, 2019 at the Valley VNA in Neenah at the age of 92. He was born on February 13, 1927 in St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada.
Bernie attended St. Paul’s Jesuit College and the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1949, majoring in physics and mathematics. Shortly thereafter, he started to work at Marathon Corporation’s pulp mill at Marathon, Ontario. It was at that time that he married his college sweetheart Olga (Ollie) Pankiw in Poplarfield, Manitoba (in a church built by his grandfather) and settled in Marathon to make their first home there. Their four children were born in Marathon. Bernie worked at the mill in the technical department and became its head in 1960. Outside the mill, he served on technical committees and authored several papers that are published in Pulp and Paper journals.
In 1964, he transferred to corporate headquarters to work at their newly built R&D pilot plant in Neenah Wisconsin. Both Ollie and Bernie quickly took a liking to living in the USA, and it didn’t take them long on deciding to become American citizens. At work, he was successful in getting many patents dealing with papermaking processes and paper products properties. His accomplishments earned him the advancement to the title of Research Fellow, retiring in 1989. Bernie was an enthusiastic and truly devoted scientist, and his favorite work motto was “Work is not work if you truly like what you are doing”.
Bernie’s hobby was wood working. He built all sorts of furniture and fancy lathe work usually from walnut and cherry. His greatest project and challenge was to build a seaworthy cabin cruiser named “Tiedami”. The meaning of the name is “i-made-iT” spelled backwards. It took 2 years to build her spanning from 1974 to 1975. Although she is getting on in age, Tiedami still runs like a Swiss clock for his son, captain Marv, family, and friends, to enjoy in the future as in the past.
In his earlier years Bernie was active in the Knights of Columbus and served as the Grand Knight of the Neenah Council for two years. He was also a member of the 4th degree Knights since 1963. He enjoyed shooting pool and spent many fun years doing so with the guys at the Neenah Club where he was a member for many years as well with his buddies in Mesa, Arizona where he and Ollie spent many winters.
Bernie enjoyed a very closely knit family with continuous communication and frequent family get-togethers such as reunions, camping, golfing, boating, birthdays, holidays and so on. Bernie has always considered family as first and above all else, and he was indeed very proud of his family.
Bernie is survived by the love of his life and his wife of 68 years, Olga (Ollie), and children Nina (Don) Szopinski of Hartland, WI, Marcy (Doug) Griffen of Marquette, MI, Marvin (Michelle) Klowak of Germantown, WI, and Donna (Mark) Winter of Appleton, WI; eight grandchildren: Christina(Kyle) Hubbard, Katherine(Geoff) Weston, Patricia(DJ)Smith, Michael Klowak, Ryan(Tara) Winter, Paul Szopinski, Matthew Klowak, and Nina Winter; and six great- grandchildren.
Bernie was preceded in death by parents George Klowak and Katherine (Marykuca) Klowak, brothers, Stephen and Norman, and sister Luba Bailley.
A Mass in celebration of Bernie’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 29, 2019 at Saint Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 620 Division St., Neenah. Friends and family may visit at the church from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the service.
Bernie’s four children will serve as urn bearers. Honorary urn bearers are godson, Brian Bailley, and Brother Knights Mike Bushman, Lloyd DeVeaux and Paul Kirchner.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to the Valley VNA in Neenah. Both Bernie and Ollie had high praises for the staff and services at the VNA.
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