Bernard Anson Place Jr., 90, of Scottsbluff and formerly of Salina, KS, passed away Monday, October 23, 2023, one day before his 91st birthday. He passed while surrounded by family. His memorial service, with military honors provided by the Nebraska Army National Guard and Gering American Legion Post 36 Honor Guard, will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 18, 2023, at Reverence Funeral Parlor in Scottsbluff with Pastor Willie Coop officiating. Memorials may be made to the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) Association and/or to the Purple Heart Foundation. The service will be live-streamed to Bernie’s obituary page viewable at www.reverencefuneralparlor.com.
Bernie was born October 24, 1932, in New Britain, Connecticut to Bernard A. Place Sr. and Madeline A. (LaPointe) LoPata. He finished eighth grade and later received his GED in 1956. He was known as “Sonny” while growing up.
Bernie served in the United States Army from 1952 to 1973. He met the love of his life, Erika Frieda Bogner, while he was stationed in Germany. They married on August 1, 1954, and moved to Fort Riley, KS within the year. Their union was blessed with four children: Claudia, Charlotte, Michael, and Christine.
Bernie moved his family to different parts of the world while serving in the Army. Bernie also served and was wounded in the Vietnam War where he was warmly known as, “Plat Daddy”, to the young men who served under him. After he retired from the Army, and with Erika’s mind for business, they owned and operated The Ceramic Place in Abilene, Kansas. Bernie also worked for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and later the Solomon School District. They were a great team. He was a poet by heart and wrote many letters and poems to his wife. He had a generous heart, quick wit, was a self-sustaining handyman, and enjoyed the Far Side and Pickles Cartoons. His sense of humor delighted family, friends, and customers alike. He will be greatly missed.
Bernie and Erika loved traveling together, learning about new cultures, and imparted their love of adventure to their children. Together they explored the jungles of Panama, camped through Southern Germany, the Alps in Switzerland, northern Italy, and Austria. They made homes for their family in Connecticut, Panama, Kentucky, Texas, Germany, Wisconsin, and Kansas. Their travels also saw them in England, The Netherlands, and Australia. They finally settled in Abilene for 48 years and then in Salina for ten years before moving to Nebraska in 2021.
Bernie and Erika returned to Germany and Australia as often as possible. Always active, they gardened extensively, participated in the local German American Club, the Elks Club, and were members of The Great Plains Theatre. They loved to dance and were regulars on the dance floor with the Jolly Mixers for many, many years.
Bernie is survived by daughters, Claudia Elliott, Charlotte Reynolds, and Christine (Michial) Pozorski; daughter-in-law, Nancy Place; grandchildren, Rebecca Elliott Coet, Kiffany Trevithick, Jonathan (Caterina) Webb, Brandon (Jill) Eva, Bryan (Gleeh) Eva, Bethany Reynolds Zaczek, Alison Place (Tom Hirst), and Elizabeth Place; fifteen great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandson; sisters, Ruth Michaud of Bristol, CT and Sharon (Tom) Shea of Hartford, CT; and many nieces and nephews.
Bernie was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Erika; son, Michael B. Place; his parents; sister, Nancy Kilduff; brothers-in-law, Louis Michaud and Ed Kilduff; and great-nephew, Matthew E. Kopowski.