OBITUARY: Berdella “Berdie” Stephenson

Berdella “Berdie” Stephenson, 78, of Green Bay died Sunday evening Dec. 30, 2018 following a courageous battle with cancer. The love of her life, her husband Leon, was called to his eternal Home only a few days before on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Berdella was born July 14, 1940 in Sturgeon Bay, the daughter of Franklin and Augusta (Bley) Kiehnau. She attended Farview Grade School and Sevastopol High School. She received an associate degree in education from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN before receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood education from UW Green Bay. She was installed as a Christian school teacher by the WELS synod in the spring of 1960. Berdie was honored to share God’s word through teaching roles at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran School in Kewaunee, and St. Paul Lutheran School in Green Bay. She started the kindergarten program at St. Paul as well as other kindergarten programs in the Green Bay area as there were not kindergarten programs in the area at the time.

Berdella served as teacher consultant to women teachers of the WELS synod for 10 years. She enjoyed teaching and felt blessed to share the faith with her students. Later in life, Berdie held a real-estate license for 13 years working in Green Bay for Coldwell Banker. She also worked as a sales counselor at Nicolet Memorial Gardens. 

Berdie was a member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Jacksonport, where she and Leon A. Stephenson were married June 13, 1964. They were blessed to have been married for 54 years. Berdie’s priority was seeing to Leon’s care and well-being especially after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease over five years ago.

Her faith, and Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, were very important to her. She created worship banners and Christmas ornaments which adorn Zion church, where she was very active.

Berdie enjoyed gardening, baking and sharing with neighbors. She carried on a tradition of baking chocolate angel food cake and cherry pie as well as cooking German potato dumplings. She enjoyed being an auntie – sewing many, many outfits for nephews and her nieces. Berdie was an avid traveler, including trips to the Holy Land, Europe, Scandinavia and Central America. She and Leon traveled the US and Canada extensively, including two visits to Alaska via the Alcan Highway.  They loved to snowmobile together, each with their own machines. Her favorite bird was the cardinal and she enjoyed birdwatching and time spent living along and on Green Bay with Leon.

Surviving family includes her sister, Marilyn DeNamur; nephews, Michael (Karla) DeNamur, David (Terri) DeNamur; niece, Sarah DeNamur; great nephews, Christopher Ray and Charlie Basch; the Stephenson family, Elton (Dee) Stephenson, Jane (Ron) Splingaire, Joyce Stephenson; nieces and nephews, Larry (Cheryl) Stephenson, Beth (John) Barnott, Sherri (Scott) Tomb, Jeff (Heather) Stephenson, Andrew Splingaire, Julie (Cory) Behnke, and Timothy Splingaire; and great-nieces and nephews, Ashley Stephenson, Jake Bernott, Alex and Austin Tomb, Brooke and Emily Splingaire, and Josie and Lainie Marie Behnke.

She was reunited in heaven with her parents, Franklin (1973) and Augusta (Bley) Kiehnau (1995); husband, Leon (2018); brother-in-law, Eugene Stephenson (2009); sister-in-law, Betty (Haen) Stephenson (2014); and brother-in-law, Gary DeNamur (2018).

Berdie’s funeral will celebrate her and Leon’s lives and faith in their Savior at 11 am Friday, Jan. 4, 2018 at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in West Jacksonport with Pastor Peter Lindemann officiating. Burial will follow in Zion Ev. Lutheran Cemetery, alongside her husband, Leon.

Friends may call on Thursday from 4-7 pm at Huehns Funeral Home in Sturgeon Bay with a devotion to be held at 7 pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church or School, 6704 County Trunk T, Egg Harbor, WI 54209.

 Special thanks to her family and friends who supported her throughout the difficult times and brought joy and love with their visits and car rides for exercise and treatments in Milwaukee.

 Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Berdie may be shared with her family through her tribute page at

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