Bernard Max Kuse completed his life's journey in Sherman, Texas at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital – WNJ on Friday, April 26, 2013 following a hard fight with a tough illness. He entered this world 90 years ago, the son of Frank Fritz and Edna Adele Besserer Kuse on Sept. 15, 1922 in Austin, Texas. He is a descendant of a musical family which is credited as being the catalyst in early-day Austin for the rich, vibrant musical heritage that exists there today.|
Bernard was a worker most of his life. At nine years of age, he worked as a Legislative Page in the Texas legislature. Among his various duties, he often carried paper bags containing up to $10,000 in cash unescorted through the capitol corridors to the state treasury office for deposit.
After graduating from Austin High School, he enrolled at the University of Houston. When World War II broke out, Bernard volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps where he served as a radio operator and aerial gunner in Eighth Air Force B-17 bombers. While in radio school at Scott Field, Illinois, he met a beautiful young St. Louis woman who was volunteering as a hostess and entertainer on a Mississippi River excursion boat which had been converted to a USO facility. Before leaving for war duty, Bernard asked her to marry him if he returned from the war.
Bernard's wartime assignment was to the 8th Air Force, 1st Air Division, 398th Bomb Group, 601st Squadron at Nuthampstead, England. He flew 33 combat missions over occupied Europe at a time when the average survival rate was only 12 missions. At that time, bomber duty was considered the most dangerous job in the military with a mortality rate of 50 percent, yet Bernard sustained only a minor flak wound during all those combat missions. He was also an eyewitness to history as his bomber formation was the first to be attacked by the latest German secret weapon – the jet fighter. He flew his last combat mission on Christmas Eve, 1944.
In early 1945, he was returned to the United States where he was honorably discharged at the end of the war. Shortly thereafter, he boarded a train to St. Louis to marry the love of his life, Bernadine Whitmire, on Oct. 6, 1945. Together, Bernard and Bernadine raised two children, Wayne and Debra.
In addition to being a loving husband and father, Bernard had a full civilian career as a businessman and banker. He worked for Dun and Bradstreet for many years and spent the last 25 years of his working career as a vice-president of Lumbermen's Credit Association in Chicago. Following his retirement, he and Bernadine moved to La Grange, Texas where they spent the next 22 years involved in innumerable volunteer and civic activities.
Bernard believed strongly in giving back to his community. He was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, serving 22 years at the post in La Grange, Texas where he was awarded his 65 year pin. He was also a loyal member of the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association, attending most of their annual reunions.
Bernard loved most sports and was particularly fond of fishing. He was also a gardener and a talented home handyman and craftsman.
In 2009, Bernard and Bernadine moved to Sherman to be close to their son. They attended the Whitesboro First Methodist Church. Until his recent illness, Bernard loved to work as a volunteer guide at the Perrin AFB Museum. Even during his final days in the hospital, he could be seen passing out brochures and small American flags trying to attract visitors to the museum.
Bernard was preceded in death by his parents and four brothers: Carl, Frank, Walter, and William. He is survived by his wife of more than 67 years, Bernadine of Sherman, his son Wayne Kuse and wife Roxann of Sherman, his daughter Debra Richardson and husband Rob of Plainfield, Ill., four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. His last great-grandson, born just 24 hours before Bernard's passing, was named Charles Bernard. Bernard will be terribly missed by his family and friends.
He was cremated according to his wishes and a graveside burial service with Military Honors accorded will be held at West Hill Cemetery in Sherman, Texas on May 2, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. The service will be conducted by Rev. Ken Hildebrand from the Whitesboro First Methodist Church.
Dannel funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements and the online guest registry may be signed at email@example.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Perrin AFB Museum, 4575 Airport Dr., Denison, TX 75020 or Home Hospice, 505 W. Center St., Sherman, TX 75090.
"REST IN PEACE OLD AIRMAN AS YOU REJOIN YOUR SQUADRON IN THE SKY TO FLY YOUR LAST MISSION."
Published in The Herald Democrat on May 1, 2013