DAY OF CARING – Kelsi Kubik, left, and Denise Gossman of GCI take a break from volunteer work to look at the bears feeding on salmon at the Fortress of the Bear Monday during the United Way Day of Caring. Volunteer groups from Sitka businesses did volunteer work at non-profits, including the Fortress of the Bear, Sitka Fine Arts Camp and the SAFV shelter during the annual event. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Nina Bernhardt

Nina Bernhardt Dies;
Memorial Set June 28

In the presence of her loving family, Nina Ruth Bernhardt passed away on June 22, 2017, at the Sitka Pioneers Home. She was 84.
Memorial services will be held 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, at the First Presbyterian Church. A graveside service will follow, and a reception will be 2:30-4 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.

Nina Bernhardt

Nina was born July 10, 1932, to Louise (Hollywood) Elliott. She grew up in Sitka and graduated from Sitka High School, where she was a cheerleader, played on the girls basketball team, and was a song queen. After graduating she traveled to Washington state and attended Peterson’s Business School.
After returning to Sitka she met Robert Bernhardt. They were married June 25, 1955, at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, and have remained here ever since, raising four children.
Nina had experience in writing grants and wrote many. In 1976 she received a grant that became the first funding for the Sitka Teenage Club, a project she devoted many hours to.
In 1979 she attended training in Edina, Minn., on the Project Charlie curriculum, designed to build self-esteem in children and teach them they are important individuals. After writing and receiving a grant, she brought the curriculum into Sitka schools for 10 years.
From 1976 to 1988, she took many college courses and traveled to many conferences to learn as much as she could to further be able to help others.
Nina loved entertaining and was admired for her amazing natural soprano voice – she often was asked to sing at weddings, funerals and other events. Nina and her mother, Louise, often sang and played the piano at the Pioneers Home and the Senior Center, or wherever there was a piano.
Nina enjoyed singing and performing in local musical productions, such as “South Pacific,” “Camelot,” “Half A Sixpence” and “Oliver,” to name a few. She was also a part of the Alaska Day Festival and the Wine Women and Song program, and was a member of the singing group the Sweet Adelines. She was a member of the Episcopal Church choir and later joined the First Presbyterian Church choir. Every Christmas Eve, Nina could be heard singing the solo “O Holy Night” at the Presbyterian Church.
She received many awards and honors over the years. In 1996 she received the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award for “Outstanding and Meritorious Service to Humanity” and in 1997 she was named Sitka Woman of the Year for her “exemplary contributions to our community.”
In her spare time, Nina loved gardening, bowling, crocheting and selling Avon.
She will be best remembered for her smile, singing voice and kind heart.
Nina was preceded in death by her mother, Louise Elliott, and her sister,  Betty Lou Gutierrez.
She is survived by her husband, Robert Bernhardt; daughter Roberta (Mike) White, son David Bernhardt, daughter Deborah (Dennis) Vilandre, and son Gary (Paige) Bernhardt.
Her grandchildren are Angela McGraw, Katrina Gardner, Tyler Wagner, Parker White; Kacie and Kendall Bernhardt; Lindsey, Kale, Blayne, Trace and Bae Vilandre; and Riley Bernhardt. Great-grandchildren are Alec and Jackson McGraw; Taylor and Kaylin Gardner.
Pallbearers will be grandsons Kale, Blayne and Trace Vilandre, and Parker White; and sons Dave and Gary Bernhardt.
Honorary pallbearers are Charles Horan, Nathan Bernhardt, Dennis Vilandre and Nick Goddard.

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