At the wise old age of 94, Roland “Rollie” Louis Gustave Berens left this earth on Christmas morning to reunite with Joyce, his beloved wife of 63 years, who had been patiently waiting for close to nine years. He joined a large heavenly party of family members and friends, including his parents Benjamin and Emily Berens; son-in-law Richard Kinney; sisters Betty (Bill) Schmidt, Joyce (Ray) Dall, Shirley (Bill) Dall; brother in-law Raymond Kobs; and father- and mother in-law George and Elsie Huhnke.
Rollie leaves behind his daughters Robin Kinney, Jill McCurdy, and Jan (Todd) Graveline; grandchildren Nick (Claire Bohmann) Graveline and Nora Graveline; sisters Janet (Raymond) Schmidt and Judy Kobs, as well as many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends — all of whom will miss him dearly.
Rollie was drafted into the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II and again into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. While in Korea, Rollie was trained as a photographer and proudly served in the 25th Division Signal Corps Photo Section, where he earned a Purple Heart. Years later, he reconnected with many of his fellow war photographers for years of friendship and annual reunions in Milwaukee and around the country. In 2012, Rollie and Robin traveled on the Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
A Milwaukee native, Rollie lived most of his life in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He retired after a 41-year career at Briggs & Stratton where he made a large circle of lifelong friends. While at Briggs, Rollie mastered the art of running bowling and golf tournaments, which he continued to manage for Briggs long after retirement. No one could match his skill at amassing door prizes, which filled closets throughout each year in anticipation of upcoming tournaments.
Rollie loved sports and games of all kinds, as a spectator, participant and coach. He bowled and golfed regularly as his health permitted, played in pool and dart leagues for years, and traveled as a winning coach to the Senior Olympics with his softball team. And until his final days, he was always up for a few rounds of Sheepshead. He loved to travel and was fortunate to see much of the world. Long before it became a common hobby, Rollie assembled scrapbooks of drawings, photos, and articles of interest. He was an avid collector and amassed an extensive collection of U.S. coins and paper money from around the globe, along with hundreds of cast iron banks. At his 90th birthday party, he gifted his banks to family and friends.
Rollie and his family wish to thank the caring staff at St. Croix Hospice including his nurse Lisa, aides Dawn, Amy, and Jenny, Chaplain Paul, and social worker Kimberly. Special thanks to his fourth “daughter” Audrey K. for being there for him these past nine years. Due to safety precautions, a private burial was held for immediate family with a celebration of his life to follow in spring. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your favorite nonprofit. And join us in raising a Manhattan or “aber gut” to Rollie. If he were here, he’d buy the next round.
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