Wilfred John Berning, 97, of Hinsdale, Ill., formerly of the area of Chetek, Wis., passed away peacefully at home with his family on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
He was born Jan. 17, 1924, in Mapleton, Minn., to Bernard and Caroline (Glovka) Berning. His family came from very humble roots and moved to Rice Lake, Wis., 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, Ill., 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 six-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 Jan. 8, 1946, in Maywood, Ill. 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, Ill., and worked in the Chicago area until they moved to Escondido, Calif., in 1952. There, they built and operated the Wonderland Trailer Park with Evelyn’s parents, Hector and Nora (Holten) Novak. They returned to Elmhurst, Ill., in 1955, and then moved to Hinsdale 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” which 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, Ill., Bonita Paynter, of Glenview, Ill., Beverly (David) Trower, of Bloomington, Ill., and Bryan (Carole) Berning, of Darien, Ill.; 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.
A funeral service and celebration of Wilfred’s life will be held on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at the Burnham-Ours-Kolstad Family Funeral Home followed by burial with military honors at the Lake View Cemetery in Chetek.
The Burnham-Ours-Kolstad Family Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements