Robert Peter Bernecker, 82, passed away peacefully in his home on April 24, 2021. Bob was born on October 5, 1938 to Peter and Marie (Deffner) Bernecker. He spent his early childhood years in Chicago and moved to Holland, Michigan when he was 9 years old where he helped in his father’s grocery store/butcher shop “Bernecker’s Grocery and Meats” in Macatawa, Michigan.
Bob Bernecker graduated from Holland High School in 1956 and graduated from Michigan State University in 1960. He was a proud member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and ROTC at college. It was at MSU that he met the love of his life, Valerie Roll, and they married on July 16, 1960. The young couple immediately moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where Bob was stationed at Sandia Base. Bob served his country honorably and retired from the Army as a Captain. Bob and Val moved to Holland, Michigan where Bob began his career at Holland Motor Express.
Bob moved his young and growing family to Grand Rapids to begin a successful 40-year career at Merrill Lynch, serving clients as a financial advisor. Throughout the years, he mentored numerous young financial advisors and was known to many at Merrill Lynch as a confidante and a resource where he served multiple generations.
After retirement, Bob served his community in numerous volunteer roles such as a Grand Valley University Foundation board member, Meals on Wheels volunteer, Big Red Lighthouse Commission member and Grand Rapids Police Department senior volunteer. Bob was a proud Spartan and supporter of all things MSU. You could always find him cheering at an MSU football or basketball game. His other passion was watching his children and grandchildren compete in sporting events. Whether it was at a swim meet, football game or baseball game, you could find Bob cheering for the EGR team and was a long time member of the EGR Team Boosters. Bob's big personality was matched by his large physical presence. He was a loyal friend with hands as big as bear claws and a generous heart to match. Bob enjoyed conversations on world views, politics and loved US history. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend and his generosity greatly impacted the communities of both Holland and Grand Rapids.
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Valerie (Roll), his four children Lori (Tim) Johnston, Kris (Brian) Ward, Mark (Shelly) Bernecker and Scott (Natalie) Bernecker; 11 grandchildren Jennifer, Michael and Ryan Johnston; Alex, Ashley and Abby Ward; Greta and Dani Bernecker; and, Billy, David and George Bernecker. Bob is also survived by his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Sue and Bill Hendrick and many cousins, nieces and nephews. The couple brought four children into the world, raised them, and saw each through the start of their own adult lives.
Friends and family are welcome to visitation on Thursday, April 29 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Metcalf Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 4291 Cascade Road, Grand Rapids, Michigan. A funeral service will be held on Friday, April 30 at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Church, 707 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Memorial contributions in honor of Bob Bernecker may be made to the following organizations - Grand Valley University Foundation at www.gvsu.edu/giving, 301 Fulton Street - 9th Floor, PO Box 2005, Grand Rapids, MI 49501; or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michigan, www.lls.org/donate, PO Box 772374, Detroit, MI 48277; or the Grand Rapids Police Foundation, 1 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, or East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation at https://egrsf.org/how-to-help/memorialhonorary-giving.html, 2915 Hall Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.
To send flowers to Robert's family, please visit our floral store.