Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Wednesday

January 30, 2013

Lee Earl Bernson

TRAVERSE CITY — Lee Earl Bernson, 72, of Traverse City, died Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, after a 17-year battle with carcinoid neuroendocrine tumor cancer.

He was born to the late Erling and Naomi Bernson, Jan. 5, 1941, in Alpena. Lee graduated from Alpena High School and received a BS in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1965. That same year he married his wife of 47 years, Arleta (Evans) Bernson, and they lived together in Denver, Colo., before relocating to Cadillac, then to Greenville, and finally to Traverse City after he and Arleta retired in 1997. Lee and Arleta also enjoyed winters in Steamboat Springs, Colo., after retirement.

Lee was a registered professional engineer in both the State of Colorado and Michigan and worked for the Colorado Highway Department prior to moving back to Michigan where, after a brief stint in a concrete business, he was co-owner/operator of a Christmas tree and nursery stock operation, until his retirement.

While the majority of his career was not in engineering, Lee was a longtime supporter of the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University where he was a member of the Academy of Civil and Environmental Engineers. His engineering mind was always at work, as evidenced by his ability to create, build and fix anything and everything. Lee enjoyed the outdoors and loved to hunt, fish, ski, make maple syrup and drive his tractor. He was also an accomplished woodturner and private pilot. Lee loved God and adored his grandchildren.

Lee is survived by his wife, Arleta; and two children and their spouses, Heather Force (Shane) of Spring Lake, and Zach Bernson (Michelle) of Seattle. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Calvin and Naomi Force, and Amelia and Nathan Bernson. In addition, surviving him are a brother, Roy (Janet); and sister, Elaine Kingsbury; as well as many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at The Presbyterian Church of Traverse City on Friday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m. with Rev. Becky Chamberlain and Rev. Dr. Jerry Jones officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like you to consider planting a tree in Lee's memory or a donation to the Neuroendocrine Tumor Innovation Fund, Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner, 200 W. Esplanade Ave., Suite 200, Kenner LA 70065, or the Zebra House Fund (lodging for patients with neuroendocrine tumors and their family members while the patient is receiving treatment at Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner), at the same address. For more information about Carcinoid Cancer, please go to

"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground" -— Old African proverb.

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