Sr. Bernyne Stark Tributes
I knew this day would come but I was not looking forward to it. Sister Bernyne is one person I will never forget and made an impression on me from my first days as an employee at Viterbo. I remember the rummage sales she organized and I was happy to participate in. Her enthusiasm was always infectious. I will think of her often.
Sister Bernyne was a wonderful teacher and friend! She was a favorite of so many, even if they weren't in her French classes. Au revoir, Soeur Bernyne!
Lori Richardson '86
In about 1998 or 1999, as a new faculty member at Viterbo, I took the liberty of walking across the grace adjacent to the library, rather than walking on the sidewalk. I was politely castigated for this shortcut by Sr. Bernyne. I heard something of a short treatise on how difficult it was to maintain healthy grass with people such as I walking across it all the time. I nevertheless took the encounter to heart and truthfully never walked on that grass again. Sr. Bernyne seemed to remember me for the incident, and afterward, for around fifteen years or so, she visited me on occasion in my faculty office. She was a supremely kind person and shall be duly missed. She did not in my conversations with her smile much, but she always had something of a twinkle in her eye, almost as if she stood ready to break into a smile at any moment. I certainly appreciated her, even after our initial and somewhat frosty encounter.
Larry D. Harwood
Colleague - History and Philosophy
I minored in French so I had Sr. Bernyne for many classes. The class I remember the most had just 3 students, and we discussed in French writings by various French authors. Sr. Bernyne really challenged us! I did teach French, 3 levels, for one year in high school, and for elementary students for one summer session. Thanks. Sr. Bernyne! Rest in peace!
Jane Gerend '67
Sister Bernyne was always a tough cookie. As a freshman we were all deathly afraid of her. She was in charge of our dorm, and we knew that we had to stay out of trouble. Coming back a few times after graduation and meeting up with her again, I realized that under that stern face she was a gentle soul. I can tell you that I appreciate her guidance and her dedication to Viterbo. I know for sure she was instrumental in my Life. I am happy that she is with her maker and that I can affirm that she mattered Especially to this young girl from Chicago.
Rosana Scala '70
I had Sœur Bernyne for two years of French during my time at Viterbo and remember all the songs she had us sing during class. Halloween, Christmas, and Easter songs! She worked hard to teach us about French food and culture as much as she did the language. I remember one of my last classes with her being at her home (a few blocks from campus) where she shared various French-made foods and drinks. Anytime I visited in later years, Sr. Bernyne always remembered me. Such a kind soul.
Karin Maresh '95
I began my appreciation and love for international travel in a trip to Prague and Greece in late 1979. What an adventure that resulted in newfound friends, both young and older, fun times, and great experiences!! I think of her frequently as I've traveled extensively around the globe and thanked her for instilling her gift of wanderlust, appreciation for all cultures, and faith in tomorrow.
Lorraine Grunewaldt Fernandes '80
It was a great pleasure being paired with Sister Bernyne as a part of the Franciscan Friends program during my time at Viterbo. She would share some amazing stories and life lessons. She will be missed dearly and my her Soul Rest in Peace.
Dr. Fedinand Kongnso '06
What a wonderful person and an ongoing symbol of what makes Viterbo such a special place. She set the standard for hospitality and caring, with students, faculty, staff and especially our athletes. We are all so blessed to have had the opportunity to experience the joy she brought to her service and to our lives. Someone that influential will truly be missed. God bless her.
Jan and Mariellen Janiszewski
Sur la pont d'Avignon on y danse tout en round! Merci beaucoup y
Repose en Paix, Bonne Sœur.
Sarah (Buche) Serdin '88
I have fond memories of Sister serving as an usher at the Fine Arts Center when I worked in the box office and as assistant house manager. She was such a joy and I always loved visiting with her. She will be missed.
Molly Maka '03
Mentor and friend...rest in piece. Sister was my senior English teacher at Aquinas and also the advisor for the Benevolent Society when I was president. Always a strict taskmaster she taught me how to organize and conduct a meeting. In more recent years after I retired and returned to La Crosse I travelled with her groups to Spain, Morocco and France. I had the privilege of having FSPA's for sixteen years and sadly she was the last one...saddened by that thought.
Rose Ann (Mashak) Kazmierczak '61
I met Sister Bernyne in the first days I was on campus as an adjunct faculty member in 1991. Whenever I walked across campus she greeted me and everyone else she encountered with a smile and hearty greeting. I was fortunate to travel with her and other faculty and staff to Spain one summer. She made each day interesting and fun. A few years ago, she shared her biography with me and my husband and then we had the chance to share her memories over Sunday dinner. Sr. Bernyne led a joyful life and we were blessed to be a part of it. May she now rest peacefully with her beloved God.
I first met Sr. Bernyne in 1974 when the audio-visual department was being formed and I was a work study student working with John Kristoff. The language lab was to fall under the A-V department and was taken from Sr. Bernyne's control. Needless to say she was not happy and told me in no uncertain terms what she thought of the idea. Every time she brought her french class in to listen to the tapes I was the lucky duck who got her stern look and frosty demeanor. I decided to go on one of her European tours and even then it was a little chilly on her part but I did have a great time.
As an employee at Viterbo 30 plus years, we crossed paths and did not always see eye to eye on topics and she kept me on my toes. Over time I realized her "bark" was worse than her "bite", and we did become friends. When she decided to write her life memories, she sought me out to do the technical computer stuff. I was honored she trusted me to help her and very glad to do it. She cheerfully accepted my suggestions and oh how we laughed over her stories! I grew to understand her and enjoyed her weekly visits to my office. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to achieve her objective. I will miss her and cherish the friendship we had. Thank you friend rest well for you have earned it.
Deb Siebenaler '75
Sister Bernyne has been greatly missed in Beggs Gym for home basketball games for a few years now. Something that was not mentioned in the tribute was what a great basketball fan she was. She always secured her seat on the top row of the bleachers across from our bench and was definitely "into" the games. She loved cheering on the V-Hawks, men and women. She always attended our yearly banquets and was on the "Wall of Fame" committee. It is also my understanding that S. Bernyne scored the first basket (somewhat of a dunk!) from a ladder when Beggs Gym was first opened and dedicated in the late 1980's. I'm quite certain that S. Bernyne has an even better seat up in heaven! Rest in Peace.
What a treasure. Sr Bernyne was one of my cherished, inspired teachers as a student Viterbo. She broadened my horizons and poured her spirit into her teaching and into the way she lived her life. I am grateful for her presence and offer condolences to her family at this time of loss. She lived well and touched many!
Maureen Coleman '74