Bernis Finke, age 90, passed away Friday, March 31, 2023, in Rochester, Minnesota, from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Services will be held April 15th at Cherry Grove United Methodist Church with a 9:00 a.m. visitation, followed by an 11:00 a.m. funeral with Pastor Deanna Woodward officiating. A eulogy will be shared by good friend, Pastor Mark Rader.
On November 23, 1932, Bernis Marlene was the firstborn child of Orrin and Goldie (Austin) Hoopman of Cherry Grove. Within the first five years of her life during the Great Depression, the family moved often in search of work. She began school in St. Paul but spent the majority of her school years at District 184 in Cherry Grove. One of her earliest memories was riding in a Pietenpol airplane with her father. In 1947, the Hoopmans moved to Austin, Minnesota, when her father started with Hormel. One Saturday night while attending an event of Rev. Billy Graham, her brother Delbert came to the hall and said, “John Finke is back at the house calling for you.” That night began a lifelong love affair, and on November 19, 1950, they exchanged wedding vows.
The couple raised six children while living in Cherry Grove, Dexter, Harmony, and Lewiston. Bernie, a homemaker, volunteered at both church and school; however, at age 41, she graduated with a licensed practical nursing degree. She worked at Harmony Hospital, the Lewiston nursing home, and Winona Community Memorial Hospital. She also spent time happily working at the Lewiston Vet Clinic. They returned to their hometown prior to retirement and purchased the same store her parents owned and operated in the 1930s, which they named The Cherry Grove Mercantile. Bernie was affiliated with organizations throughout her life, her favorites being Bristol Happy Homemakers, United Methodist Women (UMW), Girl Scouts, Fillmore County Historical Society, Experimental Aircraft Association, and Broadhead Pietenpol Association. Bernie, a natural historian, was a resource in various projects and publications, and in more recent years, they hosted visitors and fielded phone calls, letters, and emails from around the world, mostly for those seeking information pertaining to Cherry Grove or Pietenpols. Meanwhile, if she was not hosting a family reunion, she was likely planning one, traveling (including a trip to Spain to see AFS student/daughter Juana), sewing, creating with the computer, or advertising for the next Fourth of July Parade. All of this busy-ness of living occurred with their faith centered within the bond of matrimony.
Bernie is survived by her loving spouse of 72 years; children and their spouses Julie Teslow, Kathi Ryan, Merri (Michael) Vitse, Robert (Sandra), Andrew (Bernadette), and Lana Kruse; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are her brothers and their wives Terrell (Kathleen) and Timothy (Carole) Hoopman; the remaining Finke siblings and their spouses Thelma “Terry” Hur, Paul (June) Finke, and Beth (Eugene) Mulhern; and extended family members. Those preceding her in death include a stillborn son Steven Jon, her parents, parents-in-law Raymond and Jessie Finke, brother Delbert Hoopman, and sons-in-law Jay Teslow and Wally Ryan.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Cherry Grove Cemetery Association of Fillmore County, Minnesota.
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