Age 96 of Wayzata, MN Born August 2, 1925. Went home to be with his Lord and Savior September 17, 2021.
Kenneth Bernard, a man who loved God, his family and his country was the third of five children born to George and Mary Bernard on a farm near Eagle Grove, Iowa. His growing up years were spent with aunts and uncles, lots of cousins and school friends.
He had an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age running a dance hall business with his cousin Harvey and putting up ducks for collateral to get money for a plane ride. Wrestling, playing the coronet in the high school marching band, building a wooden boat in his uncle’s basement were some of the activities that kept him busy and out of trouble. When he was 14 years old a cute blond-haired girl caught his attention at the county fair after she had won a prize calf. Shirley Jean Hodgson would later become the love of his life and wife for 74 years.
World War II came and Ken entered active duty shortly after his eighteenth birthday. After 19 months of training as a navigator in a B17 bomber Ken began his overseas service as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Eighth Air Force as part of the 384th Bomb Group. He was assigned to the Grafton Underwood Airbase in England on April 4th, 1945.
With the cessation of hostilities in May 1945, the Group left Grafton Underwood, England, and relocated to Istres, France. Their first assignment on arrival at Istres was The Green Project, an operation to transport US soldiers back to the USA as soon as possible. Later the Group continued peacetime operations shuttling building supplies, personnel, and civilians across the European continent. The reconfigured B17s were used to fly American troops to Casablanca on the first step of their journey back to the United States, to fly Greek troops home and to move Allied troops into Germany to form the occupation army. The 384th Bomb Group also flew transport routes to French Morocco and the Azores; returning to Istres, France. Ken logged over 784 hours as a Navigator which included over 223 flights in the B17 during WWII between August, 1944 and June, 1946. He returned to the United States from France on July 17th, 1946.
Ken married Shirley Jean Hodgson on March 23, 1947 and attended college at Iowa State for General Engineering on the GI Bill. Upon graduation, he worked for Westinghouse in sales of electric power systems. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean Conflict and served at the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Boise, Idaho from Feb. 1952 to Jan. 1953.
Ken and Shirley moved back to Iowa and their first born Greg was born in Davenport, Iowa in April of 1953. Doug was born three years later in Cedar Falls, Iowa in March of 1956 where they lived for ten years before Ken was transferred to Minneapolis with Westinghouse as a District Sales Manager.
Family was very important to Ken so they kept close ties with the Iowa relatives. He turned down several promotion opportunities with Westinghouse because he did not want to move his family. Ken retired from a 38 year career with Westinghouse in July of 1986. Leisure World in Mesa, Arizona became their winter home for the next 29 years. Many Iowa relatives live in and retired in Arizona so they were able to keep those close family connections. Retirement was a time of making memories with family and friends. Attending grandchildren’s school and sporting events, fishing trips to Ontario, Canada, downhill skiing in Colorado and family get togethers in Iowa made their lives rich and full. Ken leaves a legacy of faith, family and love.
Ken is survived by his wife of 74 years, Shirley; son, Doug (Nicki) Bernard; three grandchildren, Christopher Bernard, Laura (Derek) Thomas, Michelle Bernard; great grandson, Andrew Thomas; brother, Jerald (Laurene) Bernard; brother in-law, James Stevenson; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, son, Gregory Bernard, brothers, Russell and Melvin Bernard and sister, Eileen Stevenson.
A celebration of his life and faith will be at noon Friday, October 1, 2021 at Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55347. Visitation will be held prior to the service beginning at 11:00 am at Grace Church, Eden Prairie. Please enter the church through door 2 for direct access to the Chapel. Interment will be at Grandview Park Cemetery in Hopkins, MN with military honors. For those unable to attend, the service will be live streamed at 12:00 CDT at: Grace.Church/Kenbernard The service will also be recorded and will be active about 5 to 7 days later for viewing (at the above link) in the following weeks.
Memorials may be directed to Grace Church Missions.
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