Obituary: Lester F. Berns

June 1, 1918~September 12, 2021

Lester F. Berns Sr., 103, died on Sunday September 12, 2021. Born June 1, 1918 in Sister Bay to William and Leona (Bunda) Berns, Lester was a loved and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; an accomplished musician; a consummate storyteller; and a devoted member of his church and community.

Lester graduated from Gibraltar High School in 1936. He attended St. Norbert College for two years before studying law at Marquette University, where he received a liberal arts degree. Following college, he and his brother Robert purchased Roeser Lumber Company in Sister Bay from their uncle Adolf. In 1943 Lester joined the army. He served in France in support of the Ninth Air Force, eventually rising to the rank of captain. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he returned to Sister Bay to help run the rechristened Berns Brothers’ Lumber Co.

On April 24,1947, he married Lucille A. Deutsch at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Sturgeon Bay, where they would move in 1959 to raise their four children. Lester and Lucille shared a passion for music, serving together in choirs at Corpus Christi Church and Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Sturgeon Bay. After Lucille passed away in 2011, Lester began playing piano in various Door County restaurants and bars. Receiving tips only, he eventually donated all $18,000 of his tips to the Christian Services Fund of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Lucille’s name.  

Throughout his life, Lester was committed to serving others. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sister Bay Lions Club, Sturgeon Bay Rotary Club, and Knights of Columbus, and volunteered for over 25 years with his wife, Lucille at a local non-profit organization, Feed & Clothe My People.  Additionally, Lester was an avid golfer. As long as the greens weren’t iced over, he could likely be found at Cherry Hills Golf Course, where at the age of 91 he recorded a round of 82.

Lester is survived by his children John (Kristine), Sturgeon Bay; Thomas (Dana), Mequon, WI; Vicky Raab (Dennis), Chagrin Falls, OH; Lester Jr. “Butch” (Darlene), Green Bay, WI; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents, in-laws Frank and Anna Deutsch, and his siblings Robert, Donna (Eckert), Phillip and Lewis.

 A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sturgeon Bay with Fr. Robert Stegmann and Fr. Anthony Birdsall concelebrating. Military honors by the United States Army and V.F.W. Post #3088 will follow at the church. Lester will be laid to rest in the Shrine of the Good Shepherd Mausoleum at Nicolet Memorial Gardens in the Town of Scott.

Visitation for family and friends will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Saturday, October 30, 2021 from 9:30 a.m. until 10:50 a.m.

At the request of the Berns family, those in attendance of the visitation and/or Mass are kindly asked to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Lester’s name may be made to one of his favorite charities: Sunshine Resources of Door County, 55 W. Yew St., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235 (

The Berns family will be forever grateful to “Anna’s Angels” for providing Lester with a quality life for over 4 years at Anna’s Healthcare. Also, the professionals from Unity Hospice worked as one team with the staff of Anna’s to give care and comfort to Lester and the entire family during these final challenging weeks.  Your support will be remembered forever.