BERNICE AUKES was born October 13, 1926 near the Iowa border by Steen, Minnesota. She was the second child of five to parents John and Jenny (Teune) Hoff. She attended various country schools and often drove the pony and buggy to attend classes, completing her eighth grade education in the Steen area.
During her teen years, she helped many neighbors and friends tending to their babies and housework, alongside working with her parents on the farm. She enjoyed roller skating and square skipping with her friends and going barefoot. She soon met her future husband Orrin. On October 15, 1946, Bernice married Orrin W. Aukes at the Pleasant View Church north of Steen. They began their married life living with his parents for a short time on the family farm west of Steen. They became parents of five children – Bonnie, Orlie, Nancy, Mary, and Jeffrey. They worked alongside each other on the farm raising chickens, milking cows, and cherishing many pets.
Bernice was a quiet humble soul, a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and loved by many. Her contagious laugh brought many smiles and great memories over the years as well as her delicious atomic cake and lemon pies. She was always ready for a good cup of coffee and a cookie, especially while working the daily Jumble. She worked hard on the farm over the years. Selling the dairy cows brought joy as she had begun to struggle with carpel tunnel in her hands. She had a green thumb in the garden and flowerbeds. Oh how she loved her flowers! Her African violets bloomed with glee. Many of her days involved canning and freezing her bountiful produce. Orrin and Bernice celebrated over 60 years on the farm and in 2006, it received the Century Farm distinction. The couple enjoyed a day of fishing together, watching the Minnesota Twins, attending many Steen softball games, and supporting their grandchildren’s activities.
Bernice was a devoted faithful member of the Evangelical United Brethren (E.U.B.) church in Steen and later the United Methodist Church in Luverne, where she belonged to Hannah Circle, Bible Study, and United Methodist Women. She was an active member of the Steen Opportunity Extension Club for over 40 years.
Bernice visited her husband Orrin faithfully at the various nursing homes until he passed on December 5, 2009. They were married for 63 years. Following a second knee replacement, she moved from the farm to independent living in Hills, Minnesota on January 1, 2012. She became a resident of Tuff Home on May 15, 2013. She enjoyed the activities, the care she received and singing hymns by memory until her final days. In her quiet demeanor, she led by example and was the solid rock of the family providing unconditional love to all. On Thursday, February 13, 2020 Bernice died peacefully at the Sanford Luverne Hospice Cottage at the age of 93 years and four months.
Surviving and cherishing her memory are her five children, Bonnie (Fred) Weninger, Scottsdale, AZ, Orlie (Linda) Aukes, Hills, Nancy (Steve) Willers, Fairmont, MN, Mary Clair) Crawford, Beaver Creek, MN, and Jeff (Sheila) Aukes, Sioux Falls, SD; ten grandchildren, Brian (Janna) Aukes, Beaver Creek, Terry (Christy) Aukes, Larchwood, IA, Dan (Amy) Aukes, Valley Springs, SD, Shilo Willers, Fairmont, Tess (Tom) Linn, Caledonia, MN, Gina (Brent) Root, Truman, MN, Dustin (Sarah) Willers, Fairmont, Erin (Michael) Brandt, Ramsey, MN, Isaac (Amanda) Crawford and Lance (Wendi) Crawford of Valley Springs, SD; 23+ great-grandchildren, Taylor Telford and Sadie Herman, Jaren and Braden Aukes, Logan (fiancé Alicia), Dylan, Katelyn, Megan, and Brooklyn Aukes, Autumn and Devin Aukes, Paislee and Tanner Linn, Wyatt and Matilda Root, Gavin, Jaxon, and Hudson Brandt, Beau Wilson, Rubie, and Ralph Crawford, Adyson, Henry, and baby-in-waiting, Crawford; two brothers, Peter Hoff, Hills, and Jerry (Mary) Hoff, Luverne; sister-in-law, Reva Hoff, Hills; sister and brother-in-law, Con and Vera Rozeboom, Clara City, MN; and many nephews, nieces, relatives, and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Orrin; granddaughter, Lisa Telford; brother, Cornelius Hoff; sister, Gladys and Otto Van Wettering; sister-in-law, Pearl Hoff; and eight Aukes brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, as well as their spouses.