Bernie was born November 5, 1937 to Gilbert and Emma (Harder) Clatanoff on the rural, Wisner farm where he would later raise his three daughters. He was baptized at Zion’s Lutheran Church, Wisner, and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Howells. Always intellectually inclined, he graduated from Howells High School in 1954 at the age of 16. After high school he worked for his father and uncles, until he was drafted in 1956. At completion of his service, he returned to the family farm, and enjoyed pitching for Junior Legion Ball, driving his Thunderbird convertible, and evenings at the local dance halls. At the Beemer Ballroom, he took Sharlene Nellor for a twirl on the dancefloor, leading to marriage in 1962 at the Beemer Methodist Church.

He served 9 years as a councilman at Christ Lutheran Church, and taught Sunday School and Bible Study for 25 years. He was a director of the Cuming County Feeder Association, and President of the Rural School District #9 of Wisner. Education was important to Bernie, and he took much pride in sending his girls to excellent colleges, and watching the many academic accomplishments of his grandchildren. In his later years he farmed and fed cattle north of Beemer, where his cow and calf herd held a special place in his heart. He and Sharlene spent many peaceful nights together riding the four-wheeler to check the pasture.

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