Judith Berns

Berns, Judith Sigurdson

Judith Sigurdson Berns, lifetime resident of Sister Bay, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 14, at the age of 88. She was the beloved wife of Robert Berns, dedicated mother of four daughters, Pam, Kathy, Kerry, and Kelly, loving mother-in-law of David Johnson, Joe Rossmeissl, and Tom Franzmeier, and very special grandmother to Erik, Johanna, and Alicia Johnson, and Andy and Tom Rossmeissl.

Judy was born to Stannie and Carrie Sigurdson on September 18, 1924. She attended Liberty Grove Elementary School and Gibraltar High School, where she played the saxophone and was drum majorette.

In 1941, she was crowned Wisconsin Cherry Pie Baking Queen and represented the state at the national competition in Chicago.

She met Bob Berns in 1942 and married him two years later. After purchasing the Roeser Lumber Company, Bob left to serve in the Army, and Judy directed the lumber crew in his absence, as well as serving as assistant postmaster for Sister Bay.

After the war, Judy devoted her time to raising four daughters and serving her community. She took being a mother and housewife very seriously, spending countless hours in the kitchen and at the sewing machine. As her daughters entered school, she increased her volunteerism. She devoted much of her time to supporting the medical facilities in Door County, including 16 years of service on the Door County Memorial Hospital Board, five years as Board President, three years as Chairman of the Public Relations Committee, and 35 years as an auxiliary member helping to plan and carry out such activities as the annual House & Garden Walk and scholarship awards. Judy was also instrumental in establishing the auxiliary group to serve SCAND (Senior Citizens Agency of Northern Door) which was first built as a skilled nursing center and has now expanded to include villas, apartments, and assisted living units. She served as auxiliary president for four years, but her favorite job was bringing residents a vase of flowers on their birthdays. Judy's volunteerism extended to other church and community institutions. She was a member of St. Rosalia Altar Sodality where she served as treasurer and program chairman and Church Women United. She was a member of the Sister Bay Women's Club, Door Country Federation of Women's Clubs, Sister Bay Village Library Board, Sister Bay Planning Commission, Door County United Way Board, and Door County Chamber of Commerce Committee.

Judy was an accomplished musician and, although she never had any formal training, could play any song by ear on the piano and organ. A family birthday never went by without her sitting at her baby grand piano and playing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, complete with stunning vocals. You could often hear her sitting by herself playing and singing her favorite hymns. She served as organist and choir member at St. Rosalia Catholic Church for 40 years. Judy's appreciation of music was passed on to her daughters by her insistence that they take piano lessons and clarinet or oboe lessons. She accompanied her daughters on the piano for music competitions. Although mandatory practice time was not always fun for her daughters, they all share a deep love for music today.

Judy's appreciation of art also translated into service. She served as a trustee for the Peninsula Arts Association and for many years organized and hung art shows at Door County Memorial Hospital. She nurtured her oldest daughter's talent for art with lessons and continuing support throughout her life.

Judy also had a unique talent for Scrabble and crossword puzzles. Until the last few years of her life, she frequently won Scrabble games with her four daughters, providing a lesson in humility for women who considered themselves to be competitive players! For many years she lived by the rule that she could not go to bed until finishing the Milwaukee Journal crossword puzzle.

She often spoke of the wonderful friends she had and their golf outings and Friday night dinners. She was quick to praise her daughters, their wonderful husbands, and her accomplished grandchildren. Judy always said that what really mattered in life was her family.

Judy spent the last few years of her life at Hearthside-Cordial Care in Sister Bay, where she lived in a very loving and safe home that Judy herself described as "one big happy family." The Berns family thanks Martha Coventry and her staff at Hearthside for the incredibly professional and respectful care they provided for Judy. Thanks also to Dr. Richard Hogan and to Unity Hospice for their care and support over the last few months.

Judy was preceded in death by her husband, Bob in 2006 and by her two sisters, Virginia Taubert and Dorothy Bastian.

Judy Berns was a hardworking and generous woman with a constant smile. We will miss her greatly. To honor her, there will be a memorial Mass at St. Rosalia Catholic Church in Sister Bay on Friday, April 19, at 2:p.m. Friends are invited to visitation with family from 1 to 2, with coffee and dessert after the service.

A memorial fund is being established to benefit charities that Judy supported.

Online registration and condolences may be offered at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com

Published in Door County Advocate on Apr. 17, 2013