John Leo Berns of Little Falls passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at St Gabriel’s hospital at the age of 79 years old. A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, March 27 at 11:00 A.M. at Lord of Life Church in Baxter, MN with Rev. Steve Rye officiating. A visitation will be held from 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, March 26 at Emblom Brenny Funeral Service in Little Falls and from 9:30 A.M. until the hour of the service on Monday at the church in Baxter, MN. The burial will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Monday , March 27 at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls. The Little Falls VFW Post #1112 and The Little Falls American Legion Post #46 will be conducting the military honors.
John was born December 4, 1943 at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Waukegan, Illinois; where his father was serving in the Navy as a rifle instructor. John was the first of four children of Leo and Ruth Bishop Berns. John began his education in Mt. Zion, Illinois and then in Oconee, Illinois where the family had moved to the farm in 1954. It was in Oconee where John’s love of horses began, with his first horse Miss Glory. John attended high school in Pana, Illinois where he excelled at football and track in addition to his education.
John served in Vietnam as a platoon leader in the 1/1 Cavalry. He was awarded the Silver Star for heroism in action, two Bronze Stars for valor and meritorious services, a Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal, and various campaign ribbons. The 1/1 Cavalry was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for sustained heroism in action by a combat unit, while First Lieutenant Berns was initially a platoon leader and then the Company Commander.
John then continued his schooling, receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, and his MBA from DePaul University. John was a Certified Public Accountant and the founding partner of Berns, Stangl & Paulson CPA; and a retiring partner of Anakkala & Berns CPA. He was a former Vice President of the Mid State Society of CPAs, past President of the Chamber of Commerce, former Trustee of St Mary’s Parish, former member of the Diocese of St. Cloud Finance Board, and former member of the Diocese Clergy Retirement Committee. He was the Little Falls American Legion Boys State chairman for several years, a member of the Little Falls VFW #1112, the Little Falls American Legion Post #46, the Knights of Columbus and a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
In John’s free time, he obtained his pilot’s license and enjoyed flying around Minnesota and to neighboring states, meeting his coffee group friends at the Black and White, riding his horses, and telling many, many stories!
John is survived by his wife of 25 years, Charlotte; children, John (Margaret) Berns of Eagan, Megan (Kirk) Baierlein of Kentfield, CA; step-sons, Chad (Mary) Sand and Brad (Heidi) Sand of Royalton; sisters, Elizabeth (Michael) Loftus of Milford, MA, Theresa Berns of Springfield, IL; grandchildren, John Michael, Stephen, Maria, Avila, Anthony, Nicholas Berns, Archie, Deacon and Graham Baierlein, Elaina (Adam) Wimmer, John Sand, Spencer (Lizzy) Johnson, Aaron Johnson; great grandchildren, George and Norah Wimmer, and Harper Johnson.
John was preceded in death by his parents Leo and Ruth Berns; brother, Frederic Berns; granddaughter, Camille Berns.