COL Bernard H McLaughlin Jr. USA, Retired
1951 - 2021
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COL Bernard H. McLaughlin, Jr., 69, of Lake Charles, LA passed away on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX after a brief but hard-fought battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Born in Darby, PA, on September 19, 1951, Bernie was raised in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He often spoke about growing up with the children of NASA's scientist and astronauts. The McLaughlin family home was situated on the beach and his early ambition was to be a professional surfer, an idea he would laughingly say his parents did not encourage. Gifted in both academics and athletics, he was an AAU swimmer and won many awards and honors. It was this combination that brought him to Louisiana as a member of Louisiana State University's swim team.
While at LSU, Bernie was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He was an honors graduate, receiving a B.A. in history and political science. He received his J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert School of Law and was a member of the LSU Law Review. He worked offshore during the summers of his college and law school years as a means to pay his tuition and living expenses. He also managed the LSU Athletic Department's academic tutoring program which provided him with an athletic scholarship to attend law school.
Bernie moved to Lake Charles in 1976 to work with Oliver Stockwell, who would become his mentor. He was later named a partner at Stockwell, Sievert Law Firm. Mr. Stockwell introduced Bernie to duck hunting which would become one of his life-long passions. He rarely missed an opportunity to spend time hunting in the marshes of Cameron Parish. During duck season, it was not unusual to find Bernie shooting a limit in the blind at daybreak then appearing in court dressed in a suit and tie by 10 A.M.
Bernie loved the practice of law and received Martindale-Hubbell's AV rating, a peer-reviewed designation indicating the highest level of professionalism. He found his perfect niche when he moved to a practice as a full-time mediator and spent countless hours preparing for each mediation. Bernie took great pride in doing all he could to bring each case to a resolution. He held himself to the highest standard and gave his foremost effort on each of the nearly 4000 cases he mediated through the years.
Since his passing, many friends and colleagues in the legal community have shared how Bernie impacted their lives. Said one, "Bernie was an excellent mediator but an even better person". "He was such a warrior but was always a gentleman" and "Bernie loved three things, his country, the practice of law and most importantly, his family". They remember his great story-telling, his professionalism and how he always spoke with such pride about his wife, his two sons and their accomplishments. He was a mentor, friend and role-model to many in the legal community.
Throughout his lifetime, Bernie always believed that "a man's highest honor is to do his duty for his country". This would become his credo. He accepted a commission as a Judge Advocate in the Louisiana Army National Guard and his devotion to his country, state and fellow Guardsmen was unparalleled. He served during Operation Desert Storm and in 2004 was selected to be part of the special task force during Operation Iraqi Freedom that assisted in creating the Iraqi court system. For this work, he was awarded the Bronze Star. Over the course of his years in the Guard, he was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Served Medal, NATO Service Medal, among others. Additionally, Bernie was a graduate of the Judge Advocate General School, U. S. Army Combined Arms and Service Staff College and U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and was awarded the Royal Thai Army parachute badge, Russian parachute badge, Israeli Defense Forces parachutist badge and the Royal Jordanian Army parachute badge. His service in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina garnered the attention of author Douglas Brinkley who included Bernie's experiences in his best-selling book "The Great Deluge." Those who served with him coined the term "Combat JAG" to describe Bernie because he so loved the excitement of the infantry.
Bernie was a member of the Krewe of Contraband, Krewe of Barataria and was honored as a Duke by the Krewe of Mystique. He was an avid dog lover, owning many English Setters, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters and American Water Spaniels through the years. Bernie was P.O.S.T. certified and served as a volunteer member of the Welsh, LA Police Department. He loved his life in Southwest Louisiana and the special bond he had with so many friends. His other interests and accomplishments are too many to list. He often spoke about how he had lived his life to the fullest and reminded us that in the end, the only regrets are chances not taken.
Bernie was preceded in death by his father, Dr. Bernard McLaughlin, Sr. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Elizabeth Spiller McLaughlin, their sons, Connor Jordan and Stratton Foy McLaughlin, his mother, Charlotte Foy McLaughlin of Blairsville, GA, and siblings Patti Cummins (Joe) of West Palm Beach, FL, Cathy Champion (Ken) of Merritt Island, FL, Dr. Michael McLaughlin (Donna) of Cocoa Beach, FL, Charlotte McLaughlin of Blairsville, GA, and Alicia Loving (Jon) of Murphy, NC, many nieces and nephews, as well as his beloved English Setter, Taser.
Visitation will be held on Friday, March 5 from 3 -6 pm in Hardtner Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and on Saturday, March 6 from 11 am – 1 pm at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with a celebration of life immediately following at 1 pm. Pallbearers are Jamie Bice, Bart Caraway, Thomas Gayle, Bernard Leger, Chad Mudd and Michael Terranova.
In lieu of flowers, the McLaughlin family encourages gifts to the newly established Colonel Bernard McLaughlin Family Fund at the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana. The fund will continue his commitment to the region and state by supporting organizations important to him, such as those with military and coastal conservation interests. (www.FoundationSWLA.org, P.O. Box 3125, Lake Charles, LA, 70602.)

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in American Press on Mar. 4, 2021.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
MAR
5
Visitation
03:00 - 06:00 PM
Hardtner Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
MAR
6
Visitation
11:00 - 01:00 PM
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
MAR
6
Celebration of Life
01:00 PM
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Johnson Funeral Home - Lake Charles
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41 entries
March 13, 2021
It is still hard to believe that Bernie lost this battle, but God needed a special Angel.

Bennie was owned by several of my English Setters. I could have never asked for a better loving home. We had so many great long distance calls over the past 15 years and will miss hearing from him to talk about dogs and politics..

I'm so sorry for you and your families loss of this great man Elizabeth. God Bless you all..

Rest in Peace Bernie....
Paula Dempsey
Friend
March 13, 2021
What an honor for me to say that I knew this honorable man. Condolences to his sister Charlotte and to the rest of the McLaughlin family
Terry Jaynes
Friend
March 12, 2021
Stratton's photo sent to his Dad while he was in Baghdad! Precious!
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie's sons on their Christmas card!
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie sent us these photos of his kids while he was serving in Baghdad! He was so proud of you 2 boys!
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie and his JAG Team - Baghdad 2005
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie leading his legal team to prosecute the deck of card - 52 terrorists - 2005
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie in his Legal office - Baghdad 2005
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie and his JAG Team - Baghdad 2005
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 12, 2021
Bernie was my long time friend from LSU swimming days and was a leader and excelled at everything he did. When he served in Baghdad in 2005, the USA Home Team adopted him and his US Military legal unit and sent care packages to them while they served America in the desert! He wrote sincere and informative thank you notes to the volunteers who supported them and there was no other better communicator/ POC than him in the 19 years we have supported active duty serving in the war zones. He was a legend to our volunteers! God bless and comfort his family and friends! He loved you all!
Colleen Canion
Friend
March 7, 2021
I met Bernie 40 years ago when he first came to Lake Charles and valued him as a friend from then on. He was extremely helpful with a group of us who wanted to start a Humane Society. His love of animals extended into his love of life and it was always a joy to see him. His was a life well lived and he will be missed. He left us like the champion he was, rest in peace my friend. Condolences and prayers to his family.
Sandra Miguez Taveney
Friend
March 6, 2021
A tribute to a GREAT SOLDIER!
COL (Ret) Calvin & Jan Washispack
Military
March 6, 2021
It is the “Soldier”
In Memorial Honor to COL Bernard “Bernie” H McLaughlin Jr
US Army and Louisiana National Guard

It’s the Soldier,
not the pastor/preacher, who has given us freedom of religion and worship.
It’s the Soldier,
not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It’s the Soldier,
not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It’s the Soldier,
not the demonstration organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble and demonstrate.
It’s the Soldier,
not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It’s the Soldier,
not the politician, who has given us the right to vote, ensures our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
It’s the Soldier, Who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag and whose coffin is draped by the Flag, who gives the protester the right to burn the flag.

The American Soldier does not serve and fight because he hates who is in front of him; he serves and fights because he loves who is behind him.

ETERNAL REST GRANT HIM O LORD AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON HIM.
COL (Ret) Calvin & Jan Washispack
Military
March 6, 2021
Bernie was always the gentleman, forever a loyal friend, a wonderful co-worker, a caring and sharing person to so many. Elizabeth and family I will lift y’all in prayer often for peace. Heaven received a patriot and truly a remarkable person who will be missed. Love DeJuana Bellow
DeJuana Bellow
Friend
March 6, 2021
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
Sympathy gift courtesy of
DeJuana Bellow
March 6, 2021
Deepest condolences to the family. We pray for your peace and comfort. Bernie was an excellent attorney and mediator, always prepared and he had the best stories. Rest in peace, my friend
Taylor Hale
March 6, 2021
Rest In Peace, Bernie. We’ll meet again, Friend. You were one of the good guys
Jack Blacketter
Friend
March 5, 2021
Bernie was a wonderful person who loved his family and loved his country. Heaven has received several wonderful angels recently. Bernie just adds to the list. Blessings to his family
Jay Maust
Friend
March 5, 2021
Elizabeth, Connor, and Stratton, Inus and I are so very sad at your tragic and premature loss of dear Bernie. We pray that God gives you the strength to endure. He was a fine man and respected by everyone. We send you love and prayers. God bless you.
Inus and Dana Robert Daneel
Family
March 5, 2021
Elizabeth and boys, My deepest sympathy and love to you and the boys . It is so difficult to let go of the person we love so much. May you find strength and peace in this sorrowful time. He was such an amazing man❣
Love Always,
Mary Ellen O’Carroll
Mary Ellen OCarroll
Friend
March 5, 2021
It was a pleasure to have known Bernie. I extend my sincere condolences to his beautiful family who he so cherished. You will be in my thoughts and prayers with so much love . Sally Rodgers
Sally Montgomery Rodgers
Friend
March 4, 2021
So very sorry to hear of Bernie’s passing. A finer gentleman no one could ever meet. He will be surely missed by his family, profession and community. RIP, Bernie. Condolences to the family.
Sandra Johnson
Friend
March 4, 2021
Stars of Life Standing Spray
Send Flowers and Gifts
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Beaver and Mason Thigpen
March 4, 2021
What an amazing person and what a remarkable life. I am so fortunate to have met Bernie and to have had the pleasure of escorting Chance The Irish Setter to him this past summer. I was heartbroken to hear about his illness and his passing. Sending healing prayers and comforting hugs. I am so sorry for your loss.
Trina McElroy
Acquaintance
March 4, 2021
As a young Police Officer I met Bernie at the Lake Charles Civic Center. He was walking his dog in violation of no dogs at the park. It became a joke between us every time we saw each other again throughout the years. A great, friendly, gentleman.
Roy Miles
Acquaintance
March 4, 2021
After countless mediations with Bernie, I don't think I ever heard the same story twice. Bernie always amazed me with tales of his life experiences. He was always kind and thoughtful and wanted to know about our lives and our families every time he visited our firm. I feel blessed to have known him and to consider him not only a friend but a part of our family. I was heartbroken to hear of his illness and saddened even more to hear of his passing. Your family will remain in my prayers!
Christina Pippins
Friend
March 4, 2021
I served with Bernie from the time he entered the Guard until I retired in 2002. He was the "gold standard" of what an Army officer should be. I never knew anyone who didn't like or respect Bernie. One of the smartest people I've ever known, Bernie always had that "Bernie smile" that just made you feel good when he was around. He will be missed by everyone who ever knew him. Rest in peace big guy. You made the world a better place!
LTC (Ret) Ben Bradford
Friend
March 3, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Jane Baggett
March 3, 2021
Serving alongside Bernie in the LA Army National Guard's Judge Advocate Section was a distinct honor. Ever the professional, Colonel McLaughlin set a high standard for himself and others. He will be missed.
Darrell White
Military
March 3, 2021
It is with our deepest condolences to the McLaughlin family on the loss of your dear Bernie. It is an honor that we met as our children became roommates at LSU freshman year. I will never forget how Bernie and Elizabeth accepted my son into their family. A memory that I will cherish forever. We send peace and comfort to all for your loss. Rest well Bernie and watch over your grieving family.
Sincerely,
Joseph, Pamela, Jared and the entire Key & Hazely family.
Pamela Key
March 3, 2021
I am deeply saddened to learn of Bernie’s passing. I have known Bernie since 1971 when I was a freshman at LSU and he was a junior. He was 100% a standup man. He was kind, smart, and honorable.
Bernie mediated many cases for me, and he was always completely prepared, and got things done.
My prayers are with the McLaughlin family in dealing with this loss , and with Bernie.. what a good man and friend. What a loss for all of his friends
Jack Jurgens
Jack Jurgens
Friend
March 3, 2021
My deepest sympathy to Elizabeth, their sons Connor and Stratton, Bernie's mother and his entire family on Bernie's passing. May the treasured memories of the special times each of you had with with Bernie through the years comfort and sustain you during this sad time.
Paul Hart Miller
Friend
March 3, 2021
May God bless you and your family, rest in peace my friend.
CW4(Ret) Joseph R Higginbotham, USA
Military
March 3, 2021
What a special man he was in addition to an exceptional lawyer/mediator. He will be missed for sure. Prayers for his families’ loss.
Jim Rivera
Friend
March 3, 2021
I was very sad to hear of Bernie's passing, and send condolences to his family and friends. I worked with Bernie in the late '70s to early '80s at the Stockwell, Sievert law firm when I was Oliver Stockwell's secretary. He was always one of my favorite attorneys, and it is sad that we lost touch over the many years since then.
Judy (and Dick) Mott
Acquaintance
March 3, 2021
Pleasant....energetic....smart.....accomplished...humble.....respectful....driven....happy.
Always upbeat. I will miss your energy, sir. Rest in heaven. May God grant peace and understanding for yiur family as they mourn your passing. God bless you.
Russell Hooper
Military
March 3, 2021
The Eagles Dedication
COL (Ret) Calvin & Jan Washispack
Military
March 3, 2021
I am so saddened for the family of COL (R) McLaughlin due to the sudden loss of a great husband, father, son, neighbor, mediator, mentor, friend, soldier, attorney, leader, and friend. Although we served together a long time ago in the 256th Infantry Brigade, I’ve never forgotten how smart, friendly, and motivated he was. I was a brand new Second Lieutenant & this fine gentleman was always a person I greatly admired and could seek his wise counsel at any time and for any matter. Bernard was widely known and highly respected by his subordinates & peers. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have known him and my only regret was not taking the time out of my busy life to call him and just say hello. Looks like I’ll save the “hello” part for the time I see him again after this life concludes. Thanks for everything Bernie!
LTC (R) Harold Molbert
Friend
March 3, 2021
It’s hard to accept that Bernie is no longer physically here with us. But knowing how many lives and hearts he touched is comforting to us all.
My prayers and thoughts are with his family during this time.
He was, as others have said, a wonderful caring person and a dear friend of mi e for many years. RIP Bernie.
Steve Hale
March 3, 2021
Bernie was an excellent mediator and we were always happy to see him at our firm. He told the best stories about his days in the military. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time.
Tina Nobles
Friend
March 3, 2021
Our deepest sympathy to Elizabeth and family. Please know you are in our prayers during this time of loss.
Pat & George Swift
Friend
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