John Bernhagen, age 86, husband of “Letty”, of Hutchinson, Minnesota, passed away on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at his home in Hutchinson.
Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2020, at 2:00 P.M. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Hutchinson with interment in the Oakland Cemetery in Hutchinson.
Gathering of Family and Friends will be held on Friday, October 2, 2020, from 4:00-8:00 P.M. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church.
Masks and social distancing are required.
Please see www.oslhutch.com for the live streaming of the memorial service.
Military Honors by the Hutchinson Memorial Rifle Squad.
Memorials preferred to Our Savior's Lutheran Church and Camp Penuel Costa Rica.
John J. Bernhagen was born on March 19, 1934, in Hutchinson, Minnesota. He was the son of Ed and Emma (Malek) Bernhagen. John was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a youth at the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Hutchinson, Minnesota. He graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1952. He furthered his education at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus and earned a technical degree in agriculture. Later in life, he achieved his B.A. degree from Metropolitan State and his Masters in corporate counseling from Mankato State.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954 and served until August 4, 1956. His military duty was in Orleans, France. On October 28, 1956, he married his high-school sweetheart Loretta (Letty) Narr at Peace Lutheran, Hutchinson. They had three children, Joel, Luann, and Paul. They resided on John's grandparents' farm northeast of Hutchinson for 49 years. He actively farmed for several years and received the McLeod County "outstanding young farmer" award. In 2006 they moved to The Greens in northwest Hutchinson and moved to Lakeridge Community, Hutchinson, a year ago. John and Letty were married for nearly 64 years.
In 1957 Peace Lutheran formed a daughter congregation and John and Letty became charter members of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Hutchinson. As an active member, John served in many capacities, sang in the choir, played his trumpet for many occasions, taught High School Sunday School and later the Adult Bible Class and was the catcher for the OSL softball team. He was elected to the MN South District Board of his church body and served for four years.
John was an active member of his community at various times in Farm Bureau, Republican Party, American Legion Post 96, Kiwanis, and Common Cup. He was elected to the McLeod Co-op Power Association and served for 18 years. During this time, he was on the State Board of Co-ops, as well.
In 1968 he was encouraged to run for the state legislature and won the election in the fall. He served four years in the House of Representatives and 20 years in the State Senate. John was recognized for his negotiating skills and served on many conference committees to iron out differences between House and Senate bills. During his legislative years, he served as the Midwest Representative on the Council of State Legislatures and director and president of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission.
During his legislative years, he was hired as Hutchinson's first executive director of economic development and served from 1984 to 1992. After he retired from the Senate, he worked for Minnesota Technology until his retirement in 1999. In 2016 he received the honor of "Mr. Hutchinson" during the Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival. He wore his captain's cap proudly.
John's main interests and activities revolved around his faith in Christ Jesus, his family, and his friends. His grandchildren loved his stories, especially his famous "limburger" cheese classics. Besides six grandchildren they have four greats which are a huge enjoyment. Travels included 49 states and six continents. After retirement, Camp Penuel Costa Rica became his mission and he spent many hours supporting the Camp in time and treasure.
John passed away on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at his residence in Hutchinson, at the age of 86 years. Blessed be his memory.
John is survived by his:
Wife, Letty Bernhagen of Hutchinson, MN;
Children, Joel Bernhagen and his wife, Bobbie of Duffield, VA,
Luann Pheneger and her husband, Steve of Roseville, MN,
Paul Bernhagen and his wife, Thelma of Esparza, Costa Rica;
Grandchildren, Evan Pheneger and his wife, Stephanie, Emily Meade and her husband, Andrew, Elissa Johnson and her husband, Trent, Rebeca Bernhagen, Roy Bernhagen, Courtney Bernhagen;
Great-Grandchildren, Maddox and Connor Pheneger, Aria and Beckett Meade;
Sister, Ruth Schwarze of Hutchinson, MN;
Brothers-in-law and Sisters-in-law, Wally and Wilma Narr of Pewaukee, WI, Jon and Lola Wuerffel of Destin, FL ;
Many Nieces, Nephews, other relatives and friends.
John is preceded in death by his Parents, Ed and Emma Bernhagen; Brothers, Herbert (Donna) Bernhagen and Edwin Bernhagen; Brothers-in-law, Orlan (Mary) Narr and Malcolm Schwarze.