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Roy Bernard: the giver
Donating time and money for a lifetime
Steelhead fishing, competitive rifle shooting matches, community service; for a man of many trades, giving seems to be one of his most popular. Roy Bernard was an ordinary man with one very large heart.
Bernard has been charitable towards UW-Platteville for many years, piquing with the establishment of the Roy and Gloria Bernard Scholarship in 2008. The requirements state for students to receive the scholarship they must have graduated from Tomahawk High School or from high schools north of the Hwy. 29 corridor of Wisconsin, intend on becoming engineers and show financial need. Upon his passing on Aug. 25, 2011, his generosity bestowed the university with his estate.
“I wish I had the chance to meet Roy or talk to him. The fact that he was willing to help someone he’ll never meet says a lot about a person,” said Benjamin Pintens, a junior majoring in electrical engineering from Tomahawk, who earned one of the scholarships. “It’s nice to know that there are people who want to help others out instead of only thinking about themselves. I am grateful for all that he has done. His gifts have helped me out in more than one way through my life and my education.”
Besides having a hand in financial giving, Bernard was a lifetime volunteer. Delivering meals for Meals on Wheels in the Shenandoah Valley, he sometimes drove 150 miles in one shift. He recruited additional volunteers for Meals on Wheels and also donated an air conditioner to the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging. The Shenandoah Valley-Herald had quoted Bernard as “being driven to help senior citizens,” as he assisted the Meals on Wheels program for senior citizens for more than a decade.
“Roy was a classic re-payer; someone who derives a benefit that has changed his life and then repays that. In Bernard’s case, giving back to the university that he felt gave him so much was done without hesitation,” said Dennis Cooley, assistant chancellor for University Advancement and executive director of the UW-Platteville Foundation. “He was one of those all-time greats who was always so humble, and made the most out of anything he could get his hands on.”
Bernard was raised in Tomahawk following the Great Depression where he and his family lived in poverty until the beginning of WWII, when his family moved to Milwaukee and later Racine where he graduated high school.
He attended the Wisconsin Institute of Technology, played football for the Miners in 1953 and 1954 as well as was actively involved with the student chapter of the American Institute of Mining Engineers.
“I got to know Roy quite well,” said Wayne Becker, class of 1955, roommate and football teammate of Bernard. “I remember him being a lot of fun and a good-hearted kid. He was happy-go-lucky; just a very friendly person. Roy never had any money at all and seemed to work odd jobs at the gas station and at a tavern downtown to get himself through school.”
On May 25, 1956, Bernard graduated with his degree in mining engineering and found employment working for the U.S. Smelting and Refining Co.
Bernard went on to have a successful career after his college endeavors in Platteville. He moved to Utah to pursue a career as a contract miner until he was drafted in the Army. He served from 1957-59 as a combat engineer. After the service, he resumed his career as a mining engineer. With hard work, Bernard progressed to the deputy assistant secretary position of Mine Safety and Health with the Bureau of Mines in Duluth, Minn. Living in Superior, Wis., and working in Duluth, Bernard met and wed Gloria Swanson in 1960.
In a letter written to Jenna Larkin, a previous scholarship winner, Bernard wrote, “The schooling I received from the Wisconsin Institute of Technology was excellent and provided me with a career in mining and mine safety that left me with a comfortable retirement.”
Bernard, a man with a large giving heart, touched so many lives with his generosity. Bernard had a great experience attending WIT, a successful career and a charitable retirement. His generous gifts will allow many other students to have a similar experience at UW-Platteville.
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