Bernard J. Puhl

Bernard J Puhl

Bernard John Puhl, age 91, of rural Mauston, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

Bernard was born August 20, 1930, to a German immigrant father and mother in Racine, Wisconsin. Shortly after his birth, the family relocated to Wonewoc, Wisconsin, to start farming after his father, John Gottlieb Puhl, lost his job at Nash Motor Company during the Depression. He graduated from Wonewoc High School in 1947 and attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Port, New York, for a short time. He returned to Wisconsin in 1948 and joined Madison Gas and Electric in Madison, Wisconsin. He fell in love with the girl next door in Wonewoc, Eleanore Schluesche, and they were joined in marriage August 25, 1951.

Bernard was called to active duty and served the Wisconsin Air National Guard as Airman 2nd Class, 128th Installations Squadron, 128th Air Base Group and was stationed at Wold-Chamberlain Air Base in St. Paul/Minneapolis during the Korean War. During off-hours from the military, he was employed part-time at Sears in their basement level assembling furniture and also worked as a manual bowling pinsetter. His military career ended when he was called home and received an honorable discharge in 1953.

Now married and assuming responsibility for his father’s farm, Bernard settled into life in Wonewoc with Ellie. Farming was in his blood and Bernard was looking for a change from the rocky rolling farm hills of Wonewoc, so he purchased in 1965 the large beef and hog farm previously owned by Arthur Overgaard located at the junction of County Highways O & G in rural Mauston. They raised their six children and made a successful living as dairy farmers including being one of the first in the area to install a milking pipeline system and overcoming the misfortune of two barn fires. Bernard sat on the board of directors of the Production Credit Association (PCA) for 18 years and was very knowledgeable in soil fertility. They retired from the dairy farm operation in 1992. Moving just a mile away, Bernard and Ellie settled into their new home, began traveling and continued on a smaller basis to farm crops. Bernard took up carpentry, building wood tables of all sizes and shapes that are wonderful heirlooms for his family. Never one to sit idle, he sold seed corn, engaged actively as a church member, learned to bake and cook, gardened and made sauerkraut in an old crock. He continued to work hard into his last years driving the John Deere combine at age 90 during fall harvest with his eldest son and operating a gas-powered chain saw cutting logs for his home’s wood furnace.

A formidable presence to many, he will be remembered and revered as a hardworking, determined, no-nonsense, down-to-earth man with a dry sense of humor and a passion for learning and a keen sense of curiosity. There wasn’t anything he could not do once he put his mind to it and we are blessed to have learned many valuable lessons from his experience. He left a wonderful lasting personal legacy for his family and friends, imparting his knowledge, wisdom and love to those around him. Some will reminisce about his stern persona, but he enjoyed a good laugh, board and card games, puzzles, pizza and fresh tap beer. The one thing guaranteed to melt his heart and brighten his day was a visit from his little great-grandchildren; his face radiated joy and love when near. He was thankful and appreciative of everyone in his life even if he didn’t say it. The secret to his long life may be just good genes, manual labor and fresh air but perhaps the lifetime ritual of shredded wheat and green tea for breakfast and his nightly snack of apples and ice cream contributed to his longevity. When faced with mortality, Bernard would reflect and declare misty-eyed with a wistful smile, “I had a good life”. He may have entered this world crying but choose to leave it happy and at peace.

Bernard is survived by his loving children Linda, Julie (Daniel), David (Judy), Ginny, and Walter (MaryJo); six grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren as well as many cherished relatives near and far, friends and neighbors. Bernard is preceded in death by his sister Loretta, parents, John and Elsa Puhl, his brother Maurice, wife Eleanore (nee Schluesche) and daughter Cindy.

The family would like to thank the staff at Cottage Care Circle and the Agrace Hospice team for their loving support and care of Bernard the last two months. Winston, puppy-in-residence, was a great comfort to Bernard.

Private funeral and burial services will be held.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 517 Grayside Ave, Mauston, WI 53948.

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