Ernest Bernloehr, age 100, of St. James, died on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at Pleasant View Good Samaritan Center in St. James.
Ernest Bernloehr, age 100, of St. James, died on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at Pleasant View Good Samaritan Center in St. James. Visitation will be at the church beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 29. Memorial services will be 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at Albion Lutheran Church, rural St. James, with Rev. Robert Springer officiating. Burial will be at Albion Lutheran Cemetery. You may send the family condolences online at www.sturmfh.com. Arrangements are with Sturm Funeral Home in St. James. Memorial may be directed to Albion Lutheran Church.
Ernest Bernloehr's life came to a peaceful end on Thursday, May 24, 2012. He died at the age of 100 years, 9 months and 13 days, with family and friends at his side. He was born August 11, 1911 to Charles and Anna Bernloehr in Albin Township and was baptized at Albion Lutheran Church. Years later, Ernest and Chris Ahlness made local church history when they became the first youngsters to be confirmed in English-resulting in much discussion among the neighbors as to whether this was even a legal church ceremony, since it wasn't performed in Norwegian. He attended the local country school and passed the 7th grad exam. But when the family that had agreed to board him changed their payment plan from farm produce to $2 a month, high school became financially impossible. So he then began earning a living as a hired man at various local farms. Gradually he improved his position and on March 1, 1941, Ernest married a neighbor girl, Irene Hagen at the First Lutheran parsonage in St. James. At first, they lived on the second floor of his mother's house while his brother Art's family lived on the first floor. But eventually Ernest and Irene moved to his Uncle George's home, where Irene kept house for her husband, his brother Henry and their uncle-all with no electricity. And their own family grew, as daughter Barbara arrived, followed by brothers Bruce and Bob. In 1950, Ernie and Irene bought the Otnoesen farm site, just a half mile west of Uncle George's farm. It had been abandoned, with weeds as high as the second floor. For months, they cleaned and shoveled debris into a feed wagon to be hauled off into the grove before they could even begin to make the house habitable. Then through years of hard work, they gradually built a beautiful homesite where they lived and prospered for 47 years. Finally, after holding a farm auction in 1997, Ernie and Irene moved to the Prairie View Apartment in St. James-a place they happily called home for the next 12 years.
Ernie's passion was music, especially singing, and he began singing in the Albion Men's Octette when he was only 16. They were very popular in the area and often sang at local funerals, Luther League events and were even invited onto the Cedric Adams radio show at WCCO in the Twin Cities. Ernie also sang in the Albion Church choir, the Sleepy Eye men's chorus and the Lake Crystal Choraliers. He never did retire from singing, still leading the "singalongs" at Pleasantview until a few weeks ago. Contributing time and energy to his community and church was important to Ernie, and he served on the Albion church council, the Albin Township board, District #26 school board, the Nelson Albin General Store board and the Brown County Historical Association board. As his leisure time increased, he began teaching himself the art of woodworking. After successfully turning out some smaller pieces, he began his biggest and best project. First, he and his brother Henry cut and cured lumber from walnut trees in Henry's grove. Then he began building four beautiful grandmothers clocks for himself and each of his children. These clocks now stand in each of their homes-a quiet daily reminder of his skill and his love. Ernie was an avid Twins fan for years and did a superb job of managing the team from his recliner-often disagreeing with the manager's strategy and regularly criticizing the poor quality of pitching staff (except in 1987 and 1991 when they won the World Series.
Certainly one of the happiest moments of Ernie's later life was his 100th birthday party last August. He was delighted by the big turnout of family and friends, and would light up at the mention of the occasion. He remained busy and cheerful until the very end of his life, and then accepted that end with the same quiet dignitythat had characterized his entire life. May the Lord comfort all who mourn his passing.
Ernie is survived by his wife of 71 years; Irene of St. James; daughter, Barbara (Jim) Syverud of Neenah, Wisc.; sons, Bruce Bernloehr of Scottsdale, Ariz., Bob (Connie) Bernloehr of Tarpon Springs, Fla; grandchildren, Jason Syverud of Slinger, Wisc., Tom (Christina) Syverud of Denver, Colo., Katie (Chris) Sullivan of Plymouth; great-grandson, Colin Sullivan; sister,Sylvia Biever of Hopkins; sister-in-law, Margaret Ryan; many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers; John, Henry, Sidney, Arthur, sisters; Ellen Aspelund, Cora Wang and Grace Thorkelson.