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Lenna Carolyn Bernhardt

June 16, 1935 February 6, 2020
Lenna Carolyn Bernhardt
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Obituary for Lenna Carolyn Bernhardt

Lenna Carolyn Bernhardt of Great Falls, loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away in the comfort of her home on February 6, 2020. She was 84 years old.
Lenna was born to Reuel and Melva Ferrin in her grandmother's home in Pierson, Iowa, on June 16, 1935, and less than a year later was joined by her younger brother, Melvin.
During WWII, Lenna's family moved to California for her father's job in the shipyards. After the War, the family was on their way back to Iowa when they stopped in Laurel, MT, and her father found a job there instead. It was in Laurel that Lenna would meet her future husband, Jerry Bernhardt.
Lenna and Jerry began their relationship in high school when Lenna asked Jerry to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. They dated all through high school and married in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1955, while Jerry was stationed there in the Marines.
For the next 55 years, Lenna had many adventures across the United States with her husband. After marrying in Hawaii, they returned to Montana for a time before heading to Norman, Oklahoma for college. While there, Lenna worked as an assistant and medical shorthand note taker for a pathologist at a nearby hospital. After graduation, she and Jerry moved to Idaho Falls, where they welcomed their two children, Stephen and Shauna. The family then spent time in upstate New York, and then returned to Idaho, settling in Blackfoot while the children were in elementary school. After Blackfoot, the Bernhardt clan moved to California, where the children graduated high school, and lived in both Dixon and King City. With a husband working for a prestigious garlic processing plant and two teenage kids at home, Lenna's house was often filled with guests and friends, and she always opened her door, and her kitchen, to all. Lenna and Jerry were both adventuresome souls. While their children were home, they enjoyed many cross-country road trips, skiing, snowmobiling, motorcycle riding (both of which Lenna learned how to do), and hunting- Lenna even remembers hiking through the mountains with baby Stephen on her back during a hunting trip.
Once the children had grown and gone, Lenna and Jerry again returned to Montana, landing in Roundup, where they converted an old bank into a new business- the front was a Sears Catalog store, and the back was a pizza parlor aptly named "The Vault". They did everything from UPS shipping to film development while simultaneously serving pizza, and it was one of their favorite projects. The couple later moved to Joliet and ran a small cafe there.
Both Jerry and Lenna enjoyed cooking, and catered many events at ranches, farmers markets, and on cattle drives, the most memorable of which was the Last Great Cattle Drive of the Century in 1999, from Webaux, MT to Baker, MT, where they fed the cowboys and cowgirls from their portable BBQ trailer. During their time in Montana, they welcomed their five grandchildren into the world.
One of Lenna and Jerry's greatest adventures came in their 60s, when they decided to realize a lifelong dream- moving to Alaska, the Last Frontier. There, in 1997, they settled in a little Russian village called Nikolavesk, and were some of the very first residents of non-Russian heritage. The people of the village quickly fell in love with Lenna and Jerry, who became very involved in the community. While in Alaska, they enjoyed fishing, hiking, bush plane flights, hunting, and the one-of-a-kind lifestyle only Alaska could provide, truly a dream come true. They converted their large back yard into a small berry farm, and sold berries and rhubarb to a local winery and at the farmers market. Their son, Stephen, would later follow them to Alaska, and their daughter, Shauna, and her family would visit often. Lenna and Jerry also visited their daughter and her family in Montana, even driving down through the Yukon on a few different occasions. The couple remained in Alaska until Jerry's death in 2010.
After Jerry's death, Lenna returned to Montana, and moved to Great Falls in 2015, to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, where she lived until her death.
Lenna was a kind, generous woman who will be remembered for her selfless attitude. She enjoyed quilting, sewing, cooking, gardening, cross-country skiing, her cats and feeding her squirrels and birds. Most of all, she enjoyed her family, who will greatly miss her.
Lenna is preceded in death by her parents, Reuel and Melva; her husband, Jerry; and granddaughter, Ashley Bernhardt.
She is survived by her brother, Melvin Ferrin (Ramona) of Fairfield, MT; her children, Stephen (Shannon Oleson) Bernhardt of Anchor Point, AK, and Shauna (Walter) Roberts of Ulm, MT; grandchildren, Rebecca (Roman) Kinane, Jason Roberts, Breanne Roberts, and Shae (AJ) Ensley; great-grandchildren, Kayden and Brooklyn Ensley; brother-in-law, John Ward; sister-in-law, Joyce Richmond; and many nieces and nephews.
The family will scatter Lenna's ashes at a later time, and the date of her celebration of life has yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ulm Bible Church, the Pet-Paw-See of Great Falls, or either of the animal shelters in Great Falls.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

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