Bangor- Donald A. Bernatche, 89, died on Feb. 12, 2019. He was born June 26, 1929 in Manistee, Michigan to Joseph and Josephine (Bukowski ) Bernatche.
Don was raised by French Polish parents and grandparents in Manistee. He attended Polish Catholic Grammar School and Manistee Catholic High School. He left high school at age 17 to work on a steamer cargo ship on Lake Michigan as a fireman, a job he truly loved. Don enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1948 and was stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine where he met his first and last girlfriend, Greta Schneider. They married in 1949 in the Chapel on Dow Air Force Base. Soon after they moved to Charleston, Maine where Don worked at the radar base. He was also stationed in Seymour, Indiana. It was there they lost their daughter, Jacqueline, at one day old. After their daughter's passing Don took a transfer to Presque Isle, Maine to be closer to Greta's family. After serving 4 years in the Air Force, Don received an honorable discharge at the rank of Staff Sargeant. Greta was homesick for her family so they returned to Maine and continued growing their family. Don had many jobs before he landed one with the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. He often recalled many friends he made along his routes.
Don and Greta were blessed with nine children. They were communicants of St. John's Catholic Church since 1950. They shared their faith with their children in daily rosary and Bible readings, Catholic education, and commitment to giving to others. This was their greatest gift to their family. Since Don left high school early to work on the Great Lakes, he decided to return to high school and complete his education. He attended Bangor Adult education and received his diploma at the age of 68, the senior person in his class. We were so proud of this moment. He loved to read and learn, especially brushing up on algebra and Polish. Don was a past President of the PTA, a Boy Scout leader, and supporter of activities in his Catholic Parish. He was a member of the Legend of Mary where he dedicated himself to praying the Rosary. He enjoyed fishing with his sons on Lake Michigan and Pushaw Lake. He was always interested in electronics and bought a computer to keep up with the typing skills he learned in the military as a teletype operator. After the passing of his sweetheart, Greta, daughter Teresa and son-in-law, Ryne opened their home to Don for the next 12 years. They made his life about family and fun. Both Ryne and Teresa liked taking Don fishing off the docks in Belfast or out to dinner. We thank them for the wonderful care and love they showed him.
Donald was pre-deceased by his wife of 56 years, Greta, in 2005, son Donald Jr., daughter Jacqueline Marie, grandchildren Robert Jordan and Joseph L. Benatche III. He was also pre-decreased by his brothers Jerome and Robert, sisters Delores and Phyllis. He is survived by his sister Audrey Jacobs and brother in-law Robert of Manistee, Michigan. Also surviving are children, Katherine (Joseph) Pluff, Linda ( James) Mullen, Mary (Richard) Crawford, Joseph Bernatche, Teresa (Ryne) Giddings, Michael Bernatche, Anthony ( Joan) Bernatche. He is also survived by grandchildren: Rosemary Porter, Mike Remeschatis (Mari), James Patrick Remeschatis ( Joyce), Carol Jean Tyrpak Rauseo (Anthony), Maryanne & Jennifer Pluff, Sarah Mullen (Devin), Katherine Gauthier (Lee), Christopher Steeves (Michelle), Heidi Steeves, Brian Bernatche, Kate Bernatche (Emily Shine), Anthony Bernatche (Leah), Allyson Wright (Kevin), Jillyan Parker (John). Great grandchilden, Tabitha & Andrew Remeschatis, Amanda & Josh Remeschatis, Taylor and Joey Porter, Alice & Nora Cough, Crawford & Aidan Steeves, Kyran, Jack, and Elsie Wright, Ender & Rhett Parker, and Samson Bernatche. We would like to thank the staff at St. Joseph's Hospital for the care and support given to our family during this difficult time. You were amazing. A special thanks to Jim Landers and Nancy Long for bring weekly communion.
Family and friends may visit 5 – 7 PM Monday, February 18, 2019 at Kiley & Foley Funeral Service, 299 Union St., Bangor. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 AM Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John's Catholic Church, York St., Bangor. Burial with military honors will be in Mt. Pleasant Catholic Cemetery, Bangor. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Faith Formation, c/o St. Paul the Apostle Parish, 217 York St. Bangor, Maine 04401. Messages and memories may be shared with his family at kileyandfoley.com.