God called His faithful child, Bernice K. Schoenenberger, age 99, home to her long awaited heavenly home on October 5, 2023.
Bernice was born on August 27, 1924, in Sheboygan, the youngest of five daughters of Edwin and Margaret (Knuth) Koellmer. Her eldest sibling, Evelyn, died at birth. Bernice was baptized and confirmed at Zion Reformed Church (now Zion ECC) and remained a devoted life long member. She attended Grant elementary school and graduated from North High in 1942, then was employed at Wisconsin Public Service for five years until her marriage.
At age 7, Bernice lost her Dad, Sheboygan’s Register of Deeds at the time, to a sudden and untimely death. The tragedy remained with her all her years and she often spoke of the daddy she so missed. Her mother provided the love and security that bonded the family and passed on the strength to Bernice, who shared a very close relationship to all the family.
Niecie, as she was fondly known by family and friends, met the love of her life, Clem Schoenenberger, at a high school football game and became forever sweethearts. When Clem entered the U.S, Army and left on his nineteenth birthday for basic training and eventual WW II deployment to North Africa and Europe, they corresponded daily for the nearly three years he was gone. Upon his return, they were married on May 10. 1947 by Dr. E.H. Wessler, at the bride’s home. Clem and Bernice joyfully celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary with a gathering just two months before his death on July 23, 2022. Their forever love story will be an inspiration for generations to follow.
Daughter, Sue, was soon born and together they shared a wonderful life filled with love and encouragement, fun adventures, travel, and continued blessings. Laughter and joy filled their home, and Bernice often remarked how grateful she was to be a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grannie, and great grandma, all jobs she adored.
Bernice was employed as executive assistant at Sheboygan’s Chamber of Commerce and enjoyed all the opportunities it provided for her to be active for the betterment of Sheboygan and keep up with the pulse of the community for 27 years. She received recognition from the mayor with a plate commending her efforts. She and Clem both retired on February 26,1988, and were able to enjoy 34 years of happy retirement together.
Her dedication for Zion Church continued until her final days. She was active in choir, Elizabeth Circle, Merri-mates, Elderberries, taught summer Bible school, and served on numerous committees including a pastoral search committee. Niecie was supportive when Clem served several terms as church president and in all other ventures of her family.
Dennis Duchow and Sue married on September 14, 1974, and Niecie was delighted to have a son-in-law join the family. She welcomed grandson, Andy, and great grandchildren, Noah and Liza, and loved spending time with them all. Duchow’s cottage at Wilke Lake for 35 years was a special family treasure where memories were made that will be forever cherished. A vacation to Disneyworld as a family and a vacation to Mexico with Andy will never be forgotten. Bernice and Clem traveled the nation extensively and also spent time in Hawaii and the Bahamas.
Bernice was an accomplished pianist and enjoyed playing both using written music and by ear. She especially found pleasure playing the grand piano at Duchows and often provided after dinner music at Terrace Place where the Schoenenbergers spent their final years together. She savored eating chocolate in any form, loved dogs, and was an avid reader.
Survivors of Bernice include her loving daughter and son-in-law, Sue and Dennis Duchow; a devoted grandson, Andy Duchow (Danielle); dear great grandchildren Noah and Liza; and special nieces.
Along with her Savior welcoming her into heaven will be her life’s love, Clem; parents Edwin and Margaret Koellmer; sisters Florence (Elmer) Sutter, Margaret (Harry/Reuben) Speitz/Kreiman, Helen (Fred) Fricke; niece Peg (Dick) Paske; other relatives; many lifelong friends and faithful family canines.
Bernice was an excellent homemaker, ready volunteer, and believed that unconditional love is the key to happiness. She gave of herself to help make the lives of those she loved special. She will be greatly missed and remembered in her family’s hearts forever. Her unending faith, devotion, and emotional strength is an inspiration to us all. God is so good.
A private family service and burial will be held by Pastor Chris McKnight. A time of remembrance and reflection honoring both Clem and Bernice will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2023 from 1-3PM, at the Mission House at Zion ECC Church, where the family will greet friends wanting to share memories. Memorials can be directed to Zion ECC.
The family would like to thank the dedicated care givers who helped make Bernice’s last days comfortable.