Posted on

Bernelda ‘Bernie’ Karlen

Bernelda ‘Bernie’ Karlen Bernelda ‘Bernie’ Karlen

Bernelda M. “Bernie” Karlen, 88, Marshfield, formerly of Greenwood, peacefully passed away at her Aster Retirement Community apartment in Marshfield, on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. A private visitation was held for Bernie’s immediate family on Thursday, Nov. 19, at Cuddie Funeral Home in Greenwood. Burial followed at Emmanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery in Longwood. A celebration of life with be held in the spring/summer of 2021.

Bernelda Marie Noah was born on March 1, 1932, in Greenwood, the daughter of Emil and Marianna (nee Braun) Noah. She attended the Benjamin school in rural Greenwood, and graduated from Greenwood High School in 1950. After high school, she worked as a nanny in the Milwaukee area with her sister, Ev. Bernie attended Stevens Point Teachers College, earning her teaching certificate. She met the love of her life, Wilton D. Karlen, at the Melody Garden dance hall in Longwood, and they were married on June 6, 1953 at Immanuel United Church of Christ, rural Greenwood. When her husband Bill was posted with the U.S. Army at a base in Germany, she followed him there, and their first child, Michael, was born in 1956. Later that year they moved back to Wisconsin and farmed in Stanley for a while, until they moved onto the Karlen family farm in Longwood. The family continued to grow with the additions of Jeff, Kristilyn and Tim. Bernie helped support the family farm by caring for the children, tending to the large garden, baking and cooking, and doing a little bit of tractor driving, all while continuing her education at UW-Eau Claire. After the tragic and sudden loss of her husband Bill, in 1981, Bernie became even more independent, which was a stretch for a woman of that generation. She put a lot of energy into supporting her family as a single parent. She taught at several elementary schools in Clark County. She had the honor of teaching both her children and her grandchildren on occasion, and was very passionate about reading and encouraging her family to read. Bernie enjoyed keeping up with the current events, especially the British Royal Family. She dabbled in quilting and embroidery work, as well as spending lots of time in the kitchen baking and cooking. You could almost always find some of her famous treats in the freezer. Bernie was an avid Noah’s Ark collector, enjoyed going to craft shows, and going on shopping trips with family. A meticulous homemaker, she was very proud of the house she made for her family. Bernie really enjoyed throwing a large Christmas celebration for her family following the honor of her mother’s traditions. Bernie found joy in traveling, taking trips to Hawaii with Bill, Germany with her sister Ev and son Michael, and an Alaskan cruise and trip to Japan with Ev. Bernie was a life-long member of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Longwood. Her church family in Longwood played an important role in supporting her through all of the ups and downs of a rural existence. She was an active member in church, teaching Sunday school and volunteering for all kinds of church activities. She was an avid Packer fan, cheering them on to wins. This past Sunday was no different, before making her final journey home to Heaven.

Bernie is survived by her four children: Michael Karlen of Willard, Jeffery (Mary) Karlen of Longwood, Kristilyn (Jim) Wildish of Wisconsin Rapids, and Timothy (Herly) Karlen of Lake Mills; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; four siblings: Evelyn Hoffman of Hartford, Arvilla (Bob) Blunck of Union Grove, Arlene Stark of Neillsville, and Elmer (Jill) Noah of Greenwood; a brother-in-law: Dick Fitzl of Loyal; two sisters-in-law: Ruth Noah of Hawthorne, Calif., and Katie Noah of Milwaukee; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Bill; five brothers: Fredrick, Norman, Verlan, Herb and Howard (in infancy); and one sister: Kathleen Fitzl.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be given in Bernelda’s name for a memorial fund that will be dispersed to local organizations.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Cuddie Funeral Home, Greenwood, is assisting the family with arrangements.