Bernard J. Petrich, 83, of Ely, dies

Bernard James Petrich, 83, of Ely died Saturday, March 18, 2017. Bernie passed peacefully on at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, MN after suffering a bad fall. He was born in Ely on May 17, 1933, the youngest of 12 children, to John and Louise (Dormish) Petrich. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings: Louise Goldowski, John Petrich, Justine Petrich, Matthew Petrich, Heddy Storm, Joseph Petrich, Louis Petrich, Elizabeth Schauer, Frank Petrich; in-laws Anton and Julia Klun and brother-in-law Laurence J. Klun. He is survived by his wife of almost 59 years, Gerry (Klun) Petrich, son Michael (Diana); grandsons: Nicholas (Jaci) and David (Cheryl); three great grandchildren: Madelyn Ann, Louis James and Eleanor Jane; sisters: Patricia Boitz (Ely) and Anna Gradishar (Aurora, MN); five brothers-in-law: Jerome (Harriet) Klun; Philip (Marcia) Klun, Bob (Cheryl) Klun, Tom (Peg) Klun, David (Carol) Klun and many nieces and nephews.
Bernie graduated from Ely Memorial High School in 1952. He joined the Navy and served during the Korean War conflict for four years. He served on several ships, most notably the USS Iowa that is now the USS Iowa Maritime Museum located at the Port of Los Angeles. He was not well enough to travel to see her, but was able to tour her sister ship, the USS Missouri, at Pearl Harbor in 1998. He maintained a strong friendship over the years with Jack Zefo, who served with him in the Navy. He married Gerry Klun on April 19, 1958.
Bernie was employed at Reserve Mining Company for 30 years until they closed their doors in 1986. He was hired by LTV in Aurora/Hoyt Lakes and worked for them for ten years. He retired when he was 63. He managed the Jugoslav National Home for many years and also served on the Board of Directors for the American Fraternal Union.
Bernie’s father purchased land on Fall Lake in 1947 and erected a small cabin where Bernie spent much of his time with his brother Joe. They played many games of cribbage and Bernie hated to lose. In 2001, he and Gerry built their dream home on the cabin site where he enjoyed his retirement immensely. His most favorite thing in his life were spending time with his son Mike and grandsons, Nick (Sinko) and Dave (Schrolfer). He taught them how to fish, ice fish, hunt, drive four-wheelers, snowmobiles and operate a boat and motor; cut wood, play cribbage, take a sauna, build a fire and get him a bottle of beer (even when they were cans). He coached Little League Baseball when Mike was young and was a very strong supporter of Ely sports teams long after Mike graduated and moved from Ely.
Bernie enjoyed polka music and could speak fluent Slovenian. He was an excellent dancer and he and Gerry went on many vacations to polka festivals in their retirement. He could jitterbug and polka dance like no other.
Bernie was a regular mass attendee at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely until dementia stole his energy and mind. In December, 2015 he moved to Lakeside Manor in Ely and as the dementia progressed, he was moved on 8/31/16 to the Veteran’s Home in Silver Bay. Special thanks to the caring and attentive staff at both of these places.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 25 at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely. Visitation will be one hour prior to the funeral Mass at the church. Memorials preferred. Arrangements entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home in Ely, MN.