Wilfred John Berning, 97, of Hinsdale Illinois, formerly of the Chetek area, passed away peacefully at home with his family on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. He was born January 17, 1924, in Mapleton, Minnesota to Bernard and Caroline (Glovka) Berning. His family came from very humble roots and moved to Rice Lake and the Chetek area where they lived and worked on farms during the Great Depression. A couple days after graduating from Chetek High School in 1942, Wilfred took a train to Chicago to learn gunite and ornamental iron work and begin working in the construction trades with his future father-in-law.
Wilfred was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1943, and proudly served in the Army Air Corps. He was part of a 6-man crew flying the lead plane, a B-26 Marauder, on 33 combat missions over Germany during World War II. He was recognized with many medals and decorations and was honorably discharged in October 1945 as a Technical Sergeant.
After the war, Wilfred returned to the Chicagoland area and married Evelyn Novak, his Chetek High School sweetheart, on January 8, 1946 in Maywood. Together, they traveled across the country in their 1936 Ford pulling a 27-foot trailer. They would stay a couple weeks at each construction site and then move on to the next job. In 1948, they parked their trailer in Des Plaines, Illinois and worked in the Chicago area until they moved to Escondido, California in 1952. There they built and operated the Wonderland Trailer Park with Evelyn’s parents, Hector and Nora (Holten) Novak. They returned to Elmhurst, Illinois in 1955, and then moved to Hinsdale, Illinois in 1977. Wilfred was a Plant Manager for the Material Service Corporation from 1956 until he retired in 1990.
Wilfred was an avid competitive bridge player and earned the rank of Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League. He enjoyed playing poker with his “Poker Club” that was comprised of eight men who were good friends from the neighborhood and church. He also spent many hours managing his financial portfolio. For a while he owned a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade, trading agricultural commodities such as wheat, corn and soybeans. After his retirement, Wilfred and Evelyn traveled and enjoyed keeping up with their growing family.
Wilfred is survived by his four children, Barbara Hansen of Oregon, Illinois, Bonita Paynter of Glenview, Illinois, Beverly (David) Trower of Bloomington, Illinois, and Bryan (Carole) Berning of Darien, Illinois; 10 grandchildren, Michael Winters, Lori (Michael) Lendvoyi, Brett (Laura) Paynter, Jeff (Jami) Trower, Greg (Rebecca) Trower, Mark (Rachel) Trower, Karen (Brian) Souza, Eric (Crystal) Trower, Kevin Berning and Bridget Berning; fourteen great-grandchildren, Mary Lendvoyi, Elizabeth Lendvoyi, Charlotte Paynter, Kenna Trower, Brynlee Trower, Lexi Sahlin, Clayton Trower, Owen Trower, Oliver Trower, Amelia Trower, Liam Souza, Camila Trower, Avery Trower and Camden Trower; other relatives, and many friends.
Wilfred was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, his siblings Margaret Dunneboil, Gerald Berning, Cyril Berning and Dorothy Peterson, his sons-in-law, Robert Hansen and Bruce Paynter, and a grandson, Bryan Paynter.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at 11:00 A.M. at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Chetek. Visitation will be held from 10:00 A.M. until the service at 11:00 A.M. He will be laid to rest at Lakeview Cemetery in Chetek with full military honors following the church service.
The Burnham-Ours-Kolstad Family Funeral Home of Chetek has been entrusted with arrangements.
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