Bernie Lieder – Obit

Bernard Louis Lieder, 97, of Crookston, MN, died Sunday, August 23, 2020. Bernie was born on February 19, 1923, in Greenwood Township, MN, to Christ and Rose (Schmidt) Lieder. In his childhood, Bernie’s parents ran what is now the River Inn in Hanover; lean times inspired the strong work ethic, waste-not attitude, and appreciation for nature evident throughout his life.  He was baptized and confirmed at Greenwood Lutheran Church, and graduated from Rockford High School.

During World War II, Bernie served with the 102nd Infantry Division Ozarks in the European theater.  Because he was fluent in both English and German, he played an instrumental role as an unofficial translator in the liberation of German towns and camps at the end of the war, liaising between Allied forces and German citizens and displaced persons.

In the early 1950s, Bernie moved north to work for the Polk County Highway Department. In 1952, he was united in marriage with Shirley Bleck at Cross Lutheran Church in Rockford.  They made Crookston their home, raising three daughters in a wonderful neighborhood and building on their faith as active members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  Somehow Bernie carved out time to pitch for a slow-pitch softball team into his late 60s.

Overseeing Polk County’s infrastructure and planning for its growth brought him great satisfaction.  Unknowingly, his involvement with transportation organizations, and connection with people living and working on county roads and bridges, foreshadowed his next steps.

Soon after retiring as Polk County Highway Engineer, Bernie accepted the DFL party’s nomination to serve District 2A (later 1B) in the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he became a spokesperson for transportation issues.  He was elected to his first term in 1984–at age 61–with his family’s full support.  Bernie drove between Crookston and the Capitol weekly for the entirety of his legislative career.  He had immense respect for the people he worked with, and among his closest colleagues were the legislative staffers, whom he valued deeply.

Bernie Lieder was the last World War II veteran to serve in the Minnesota Legislature. His experiences are archived in the Greatest Generation exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Center, and he supported the creation of the World War II Veterans Memorial on the State Capitol grounds.  In 2009, he received the rare honor of rekindling the eternal flame and laying a wreath at Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem.  The recognitions bestowed on him over his lifetime left Bernie humble, thankful, and eager to continue in service to others.

Following his departure from the Legislature in 2010, he made himself available, publicly and privately, to those who sought his wisdom–often armed with white boxes of “Chippers” from Widman’s Candy Shop.  He made several trips to Europe, visited his children, and took part in a one-day Honor Flight to the Mall in Washington, DC.  In spite of health challenges, Bernie was able to continue to live in the home he and Shirley built in 1955, thanks to compassionate friends who became as family. His gratitude for this was boundless.

Bernard Lieder is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law: Sue and Mark Dundas of Wells, MN; Heidi and John Rahe of Rensselaer, IN; and Jane and Ken Whitter of Coquitlam, BC, Canada; ten grandchildren: Christoph (Kelsey), Esther (Valera Zdebko), Carolyn (Erick Marchand), Benjamin (MeKayla), John-Mark, and James (Alexandra) Dundas; Micklin Rahe; and Brody, Devon, and Joanna Whitter; and seven great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Roberta Lemmage; several nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and godchildren.

He was predeceased by his wife, Shirley; his parents, Christoph and Rose, and Shirley’s parents, Robert and Bertha Bleck; three siblings and their spouses: Hubert and Erna Lieder, Armin and Lula Lieder, and Bob and Doris Sinclair; his sister-in-law and her husband, Marguerite, and Clyde Henson; and Roberta’s husband, Ivar Lemmage.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the funeral service for Bernard Lieder will be private, but a public live streaming of the service will be available starting at 9:45 am on Friday, September 4, 2020, at, and available there for later viewing. Pastor Loren Mellum will officiate.

A public graveside service with military honors will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 19, 2020, at Elmwood Cemetery in Rockford, MN. Pastor Bill Reck will officiate. Masks are mandatory, and out of respect for all please observe strict social distancing protocols.

In lieu of floral tributes, memorials can be sent to the organization of your choice.  In Bernie’s memory, treat yourself to a little chocolate now and then–and always, always exercise your right to vote.

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Arrangements Entrusted to Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home of Crookston, MN.