Mary A. Bernickus
1940 - 2021
Mary A. Bernickus

Born: October 5, 1940; Joliet

Died: February 10, 2021; St. Peter, Missouri

Mary Augusta Bernickus (nee Kaffer) age 80 at rest on February 10, 2021 in St. Peter, MO.

Born October 5, 1940 in Joliet, IL, oldest daughter of Jack and Izzy Kaffer, a graduate of St. Francis Academy, Class '58, and College (now University) of St. Francis, Class '62. She married William J. "Bill" Bernickus, Sr. in 1963, and together with their three children moved to the St. Louis, MO area in 1971. Mary suffered a series of medical setbacks over the last five months until Feb. 10 when her heart failed.

Mary worked as the first news editor of the Joliet Diocesan Newspaper, the Catholic News-Register. She taught school in both Illinois and Missouri, and was a case manager for the developmentally disabled in Missouri. She was active in the community of those who support brain injured individuals.

Mary is survived by two sons, William J. Bernickus Jr. of St. Peters, MO, and Thomas A. (Laura) Bernickus of St. Louis; a sister Kathryn A. Kaffer of Gallup. NM; a brother James E. Kaffer of Sturgeon Lake, MN; four beloved grandchildren, Max and Isabelle Bernickus, Michael Bernickus, and Katherine Courtois; son-in-law Scott Norvell, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John D. "Jack" Kaffer and Isabelle Grant, her husband, William J. Bernickus, Sr. (2019), her daughter Linda Courtois (2019) and a brother John C. "Jay" Kaffer.

Mary was a thoughtful, caring, upbeat individual who put others' welfare above her own. She loved family and friends, enjoyed gatherings and could converse with ease on many topics. Versatile and talented, she sewed, gardened, and did crafting. She kept in touch with family and friends, was a letter writer, and even towards the end of her life, could be found texting and posting,

Mary lived a long and happy life; beloved by her family and friends, words don't do justice to how wonderful a person she was.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Brain Injury Association of American at

A memorial service will be planned at a later date.

For more information visit the Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions, St. Louis, MO at, where you can share a favorite memory or leave online condolences.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by The Herald-News on Feb. 20, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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Mrs. Bernickus was my Journalism teacher at SFA, class of 1965. I remember enjoying the class and appreciated her as a teacher. I think too that she was one of the pioneers in that she was among the first teachers who were not Franciscan sisters. Prayers and sympathy to her family.
Margaret Kelly
February 21, 2021