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Bernie was born on September 1, 1938 to Karl and Rose Mikolas on the farm at section 7, township 21, range 31, west of the 1st in the Landshut area. He was the third child of 12 children, although the last child died as an infant. Bernie was first raised where he was born. Then, at the age of about 3, his parents bought his Uncle Tom’s farm after he had to leave for treatment of tuberculosis and the family moved to what is now the Mikolas family farm. Bernie was always a farm boy at heart and loved it with everything he was. He always said he’s not sure how he made it through school because he couldn’t concentrate on his studies. All he could think about was farming.
Bernie first attended Dongola School starting in grade 1. His parents then transferred him to Gerald School at the age of about 10. He recalled going to school with the horses and sled in the winter, or buggy in the summer. The kids were all very young, but the horses knew the way to school and back. There was an occasion or 2 that the sled tipped and the kids got dumped out. No one got hurt, but when the horses made it home and the kids didn’t, Karl would go out looking for them and find them all walking back without a team. Or, if the boys would fight and an older, unnamed sibling decided he didn’t want to give Bernie a ride anymore, he’d kick him out and make him run behind, just because that’s what brothers do.
Bernie met Germaine during their school years in Gerald. He didn’t remember how old they were but recalled they were “young.” It didn’t take long for them to fall in love and stay that way. Bernie finished school and moved away to work in Pine Falls, MB while Germaine worked in Regina. But that didn’t stop the love letters, nor did it stop a proposal, and on June 24, 1961, Bernie and Germaine became husband and wife. Bernie always said it was such a dry year, there was nothing else to do, so they got married. They built a house on the Mikolas farm and 3 years after marriage, welcomed home their first child, Gregory Kevin, born May 20, 1964. They spent 15 years as a family of 3 before being surprised by the arrival of their daughter Kelli Ann, born May 31, 1979. Bernie farmed with his father and eventually bought the farm from Karl and Rose. He farmed 5 quarter sections of land, as well as raised pigs, about 80 head of Charolais cattle, chickens, and horses. He also worked at the K1 and K2 Potash mines as the 36th man hired, eventually being promoted to Foreman. However, life got too busy working both the farm and mine, and Germaine “suggested” he decide between her or the mine. Luckily, Bernie chose Germaine.
Bernie was a real life cowboy, breaking and riding horses, and herding cattle. For anyone that knew him, they knew he had bowed legs, and that was not natural. He had many mishaps with horses, including horses laying down in the water with him on their back, a horse slipping and landing on its back with Bernie strapped in the saddle, and so on. He survived broken legs, arms, and ribs from his horse riding days, and cheated death from a gunshot wound to the chest in a hunting accident in 1964. His life was spared again when the grain auger he was pulling with his new tractor hit a power line. Germaine watched from the kitchen window as sparks flew, the tires blew out, and Bernie opened the tractor door, and jumped clear of the tractor. Truthfully, Bernie may have been a cat with nine lives. No one has ever disproved this.
Bernie was a wonderful friend and community supporter. He rarely said ‘no’ when he was asked to help out and was incredibly generous. Whenever someone was in need, Bernie was one of the first people to be there to lend a hand, an ear, a shoulder, or a shovel. Bernie was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Wheat Pool committee, and St. Anthony’s hospital board. Bernie was a counsellor for the RM of Spy Hill for 3 years from 1985-1989 before becoming Reeve in Nov 1989, holding that position for 28 years until Nov 2012. He was a good politician. Most people liked him, and he liked most people. If he didn’t like someone, they likely didn’t know it. He treated everyone fairly and equally and didn’t hold many grudges. He always tried to be understanding of everyone’s position and took the time to talk to all parties before making critical decisions. Many days and evenings he received angry phone calls from upset members of the RM. He spent many hours on the phone talking calmly and deescalating the situation to a neutral conclusion. His skill and patience were remarkable. Bernie barely had a mean bone in his body. Not many people ever saw him get really angry or curse too much. However, every cattle farmer knows, when dealing with cattle at the cattle sheds, a new personality exists. Many curse words were heard floating on those winds, especially after a cow decided she didn’t trust Bernie anymore and chased him. Bernie was very fast and was always able to make it up and over the fence before she could get him. But little did she know he remembered her ear tag and it didn’t take long after her calf was weaned that “that crazy b****” was off to market. Later he lamented he probably should have had different coloured cattle.
Bernie had many episodes of lung infections and heart troubles throughout the years, especially in the last few, and when he went into hospital at the beginning of October 2023 with shortness of breath and pneumonia, he was transferred to Regina within 2 days. He received a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer of the pancreas and spleen with further growths throughout the abdomen. He was only given a short timeline and accepted it with grace and bravery. He spent about a week in hospital and then spent 3 weeks at home at the farm with his daughter until his care became too complex. He was transferred to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Esterhazy where he was called Home on Nov 24, 2023 at 8:30pm with family by his side.
Bernie is predeceased by his wife Germaine of 61 years, his father Karl, mother Rose, and infant brother Myles. Left to cherish his memory is daughter Kelli (Kirk) of Neepawa, son Greg of Regina, grandchildren Dawson, Maverick, and Gavin Jakubowski, Cynthia, Tiernan, Joshua, Steven Mikolas, Kayleigh (Kody) Szanto, great granddaughter Willow Mikolas, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and many close friends.
The legacy he leaves behind will forever be felt on the golf course, in the curling rinks, in the soil of the fields, in the exhaust of the tractor, in the history of the R.M., in the memories he made with friends and family, and in the breath of his grandchildren. He worked hard at everything he did and now he can rest easy knowing he will never be forgotten for the great man he was.
Knights of Columbus, Esterhazy
Esterhazy SK S0A 0X0
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