Robert Waylon Bernhardt

Robert Waylon Bernhardt

In the presence of his loving family, Robert Waylon Bernhardt passed away on July 1, 2017, in Sitka. He was 87.   

Funeral services will be noon Friday, July 7, at the First Presbyterian Church, with graveside services to follow. A celebration of his life will be held later that day, from 5 to 10 p.m., at Harrigan Centennial Hall, with photos, stories, and food to be shared. Those who would like to bring a dish are welcome to do so, the family said.

A viewing for all family and friends will be held 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 6, at Prewitt Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s name to the Sitka Sportsman’s Association. 

Bob was born July 16, 1929, to Powell and Mary Louise (Mason) Bernhardt in Akron, Ohio. The family moved to Sitka sometime around 1944.

Bob was drafted right out of high school into the U.S. Army, in 1951, and received an honorable discharge in 1953. After his Army service, he followed his brother Bill to Gold Beach, Ore., where he learned to fly in an Aeronca Champ airplane.

After spending time in Oregon, he decided to move back to Sitka. There he met Nina Ruth Elliott, and they were married on June 25, 1955, at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Bob and Nina remained in Sitka for the rest of their lives, raising their four children here.

For most of Bob’s career he was a master carpenter and was involved in residential and commercial projects throughout Sitka. He would often share with family that he had built or worked on buildings such as Ken Brown Apartments and the Sitka Pioneers Home.

Bob and Nina built their family home on Halibut Point Road with Bob doing all of the construction on his own after putting in a full day at work or on weekends. Bob could build or fix anything. Once their home was built, he fished commercially on weekends and his days off. In later years, he changed careers and went to work for the Sitka School District in the maintenance department, retiring in 1992.

Bob was an avid outdoorsman who embraced everything Alaska has to offer. Some of the things he enjoyed most were snowmobiling on Harbor Mountain, riding ATVs on Kruzof Island, fishing, hunting, building, and flying his radio-controlled model airplanes.

Bob’s last snowmobile trip to Skagway was at the age of 83.

He took great pleasure in helping his children work on their own homes, sharing with them his talent in carpentry. He loved traveling with his wife and children and then later with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bob lived for fishing! Every year for the past 30 years, he couldn’t wait to fish the Sitka Salmon Derby! Last year, at the age of 86, he accomplished a remarkable feat of winning the derby by both turning in the largest fish (a 40.5 pound king) and the most poundage. This was a highlight of his fishing years.

Bob’s last fishing trip was to his favorite place, one week before he passed away.   

Those who knew Bob greatly enjoyed his spirit, his stories, and that he was always up for an adventure. Bob lived his life to the fullest.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife Nina, on June 22; his parents Powell and Louise; and his brothers Ernie, Bill and Jimmy Bernhardt. 

Bob is survived by his daughter Roberta (Mike) White, son David Bernhardt, daughter Deborah (Dennis) Vilandre, son Gary (Paige) Bernhardt, and brother Clint Bernhardt.   

His grandchildren are Angela McGraw, Katrina Gardner, Tyler Wagner, Parker White; Kacie Bernhardt and Kendall Bernhardt; Lindsey Vilandre, Kale Vilandre, Blayne Vilandre, Trace Vilandre and Bae Vilandre; and Riley Bernhardt. Great-grandchildren are  Alec McGraw and Jackson McGraw; Taylor Gardner and Kaylin Gardner.

Pallbearers will be grandsons Kale Vilandre, Blayne Vilandre, Trace Vilandre, Tyler Wagner and Parker White, and sons Dave Bernhardt and Gary Bernhardt.

 

Honorary pallbearers are Mike White, Dennis Vilandre, Nathan Bernhardt, Charles Horan, Doug Hulk, Bill Steinbach, Frank Miles, Todd White, Carl Marvin and Evans Sparks.

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