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Bernie Brohaugh 07/04/2023

Clair Bernhardt “Bernie” Brohaugh (84) died after a brief illness, at his home in River Falls, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. He was born the youngest of five children to Clarence and Mabel (Esterby) Brohaugh on January 31, 1939, and grew up on the family farm between Bay City and Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Bernie was baptized, confirmed, and married at Eidsvold Lutheran Church, Esdaile, Wisconsin. He attended a country school not far from his home, and graduated from Ellsworth, Wisconsin High School in 1957. From there he attended the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, where he graduated in 1961 with a major in English and a minor in French. Continuing his graduate education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, he earned an MA in English in 1963 and then a PhD in English in 1975. Bernie first taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and then at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. In 1977 he returned to teach in the English department at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, where he taught for 28 years, until his retirement as Professor Emeritus. He married Karen Anderson November 30, 1985, and they made their home in the country just south of River Falls.
Bernie was an English professor, actor, and playwright. He was a passionate teacher and Shakespeare scholar who was dedicated to educating and assisting his students. He enjoyed acting in local theater productions in the River Falls area. He sang in Barbershop quartets and choruses for decades and wrote shows and arranged music for their performances. Bernie took pride and enjoyment in his home, his family, and his beloved cats, and enjoyed gathering with his many family, friends, and colleagues. His wit and dry sense of humor were centerpieces of all social interactions, as was his deep interest in and empathy for others. Bernie was a loving husband, beloved uncle, and a joy to his family; he had a great interest in family history and genealogy. Bernie is survived by his wife of 37 years, Karen, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and dear family from California. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Joel and Arley, and sisters, Audrey Staats and Elaine Torseth.
A Visitation was held on Saturday, August 5, 2023 at 10AM at HOPE Lutheran Church (3337 Kingsbarn Ave) in River Falls with a Celebration of Life service beginning at 11AM. A Reception followed the service. Interment was in Eidsvold Lutheran Cemetery in Esdaile, Wisconsin. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the River Bluff Humane Society in Red Wing, Minnesota, or Adoray Home Health and Hospice of Western Wisconsin. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


  • Char Bystrom Posted July 7, 2023 10:00 am

    We always had a good ‘chat’ over a haircut and it was always fun to hear of the adventures in Bernie’s life….such a good guy!

  • Carole Mottaz Posted July 7, 2023 1:28 pm

    Bernie was such a lovely man. I introduced him to Karen and they made a wonderful couple. He will certainly be missed.

  • Gary Kruger Posted July 7, 2023 5:30 pm

    Bernie was a very special classmate and friend. Class reunions will never be the same. You will be greatly missed. Gary and Carole Kruger

  • Jason Schrank Posted July 8, 2023 8:53 am

    One of the finest men that I’ve had to the honor to know.

  • Liz Kreibich Posted July 8, 2023 5:32 pm

    Karen so sorry for your loss. Always enjoyed talking to Bernie.

  • Thomas Possley Posted July 9, 2023 3:39 pm

    We always looked forward to our retired educator meetings with Bernie attending. Great ideas, stories, and he always added to the comradery. We can’t replace him

  • Faye Perkins Posted July 9, 2023 11:02 pm

    Bernie was an icon in the English Department at UWRF. Bernie was always interesting to talk to and I enjoyed running into him on campus or at church gatherings. He will be missed. So sorry for your loss, Karen.

  • Meg Swanson Posted July 10, 2023 11:21 am

    Bernie was always happy to be recruited to play “mature roles” alongside students in University Theatre productions. Unlike the students, he was also always ready to argue with me about how his character should behave — and he was always right! The productions were richer for his participation and I was delighted when he was able to participate.

  • Kay Baker Posted July 11, 2023 10:27 am

    So sorry to hear of Bernie’s death. He was always fun to listen to and talk with at our class reunions. I don’t know who can take his place! Praying for you Karen! Are you attached to your cats as he was?!!

  • Barbara Noll Posted July 14, 2023 11:13 am

    We are very sorry to hear of Bernie’s passing. He was a dear friend and classmate. He was always the first one to offer to help organize a class reunion. Praying for him and his family.

  • Beth Heinly-Munk Posted July 14, 2023 1:15 pm

    Fond memories of listening to Bernie’s stories when sharing time at his niece Laurel’s home. He had a great laugh and a twinkle in his eyes. He always looked like he was drumming up some mischief!
    He will surely be remembered well..

  • Delores Jenson Johnson Posted July 15, 2023 2:53 pm

    So sorry tto read of Bernie’s passing. A great guy. I have fond memories of him in high school. He set such a good example for all his classmates to aspire too. Know he will be dearly missed.

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