Bernhard Arthur Vaaler, Jr.
Bernhard Arthur Vaaler, Jr.
  • July 17, 1942 - March 6, 2017
  • Long Beach, California

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Bernhard Arthur Vaaler, Jr. was born in Long Beach, California on July 17th, 1942 to Bernhard Arthur Vaaler, Sr. and Eileen Phyllis Rasmus. Bernhard was an only child for about 8 years until his only sister, Deborah was born in 1950. Bernhard, or Bernie as most called him, grew up in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, until his family moved closer to Cal State Long Beach where they purchased a home. Bernhard is survived by 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Bernie loved to tell stories of his childhood days- swimming in the bay off 2nd Street, riding bikes with a friend all the way to Irvine Lake or racing his car or motorcycle down the streets of Long Beach when he was in high school. Bernie attended Lowell Elementary, Minnie Gant, Stanford Junior High and then graduated from Millikan High School - all Long Beach schools.

Bernie’s family attended Christ Lutheran Church in Long Beach for many years and that is where he met his wife to be, Rebecca, in Luther League. Rebecca Ruth Lyche was from Rossmoor, California and her family also attended Christ Lutheran. Bernie and Rebecca dated for about 3 years before they were married on July 27, 1963. Bernie had just turned 21 and Rebecca was only 18. Bernie and Becky soon headed to Blair, Nebraska to attend Dana College- a Danish Lutheran college where Becky’s father(Grandpa Walt) had once taught. As an interesting side note, Bernie had Grandpa Walt as his professor in Calculus at Cal State Long Beach. Bernie told us kids that he luckily received a “B” grade, since his father-in-law was his professor. The Dana college experience included many fun stories of snow and cold weather, traveling all the way to Nebraska in a Volkswagen Beetle, with wife Becky, Becky’s brother Bob and his wife Sue, as well as tales of Midwest living. Bernie graduated with his Bachelors in business and minored in History. He also received his teaching degree from CSULB.

Son, Bernhard Erik was born soon after graduating from Dana College and brother Lars Christopher was born 2 ½ years later. Daughter, Kristen Ann was born 4 years after that.

Bernie worked for JCPenney’s deparment store for a few years after graduating college. He eventually got referred to a better paying job by his father, at Certified Grocers. He initially worked in the freezer, also loaded trucks, but eventually made his way into the office as Manager of the Procurement Department. He retired from Certified at the age of 58, with about 30 years of service. Our father was a very loyal, hard worker and respected much by those he worked along side.

Bernie’s retirement life included life at the beach in Belmont Shore, where he and Becky moved in 1992. Their daughter Kristen was the only child still living at home, so they were able to move into a smaller home, 1 block from the beach. This is where Bernie always wanted to retire, so he made his dream come true. Bernie and Becky enjoyed trips to Laughlin, Bass Lake, and other local camping spots. After Becky passed in 2005, Bernie continued to vacation with his kids and grandkids, while also visiting Bob and Sue in Tehachapi very often. Bernie was a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and sang in the church choir up until this last year. He enjoyed attending Gloria Dei and had many good friends in the church!

Bernie was always a positive, warm and happy person to be around. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends! Although, I am sure Rebecca is happy to have him home, in heaven!