Bernice Anna Lehman Profile Photo
1924 Bernice 2023

Bernice Anna Lehman

October 18, 1924 — April 9, 2023

East Grand Forks



Bernice Anna Lehman, 98, of East Grand Forks, MN, passed away peacefully on Easter Sunday morning, April 9, 2023, in REM North Star, where she had been residing since 2020.

Bernice was born on October 18, 1924 in Virginia, MN to Edward and Elsie (Von Holdt) Lehman. She and her younger brother, Kenneth, were both born with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. Together, they grew up on the family farm near Fertile, MN and as a child Bernice attended public school for 4 years in a nearby country school. Her mother passed away from cancer in 1953 and in 1970 their father sold the farm and they moved into Fertile. Edward passed away from cancer 2 years later. Bernice and Kenny continued to live in their home with Bernice doing the cooking for them while Charles Gustafson, a longtime friend, became their guardian. Their foster mother, Alice Dale, and her family visited and looked in on them several times a week and Bernice always welcomed them with cookies and lemonade. 

In 1981 Bernice and Kenny went to live with Alice and Ray Dale in their home at Herald Station, 6 miles southeast of Crookston.  Bernice would help Alice with cooking, baking, cleaning, dusting and whatever she could because it made her feel good to help. Her favorite pastimes included embroidery, coloring, and reading to her brother. She and Kenny participated in Special Olympics and spent a week every summer at Camp Sunshine near New York Mills, MN. In 2004 Bernice fell and broke her ankle which necessitated her moving to a REM Group Home in Crookston. After Charles Gustafson’s death in October of 2005, Alice and her son, David, became Bernice and Kenny’s legal guardians.

Looking back on Bernice’s compelling story; she started working at the Crookston-based Polk County Development Achievement Center on July 27, 1972. After a career that spanned 48 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days Bernice retired on October 20, 2020. It was COVID-19 more than anything else that spurred the decision that it was time.  Bernice set a mark for longevity of service with the DAC that likely will never be surpassed.  The day was celebrated with remarks from DAC Director, Jo Bittner, “Bernice and Ken were inseparable and very helpful to one another. If one’s language was difficult to understand, the other assisted them. Bernice was always cheerful, ready to try anything and so much fun. She loved to joke around, was a hard worker, and so determined to do her best. She will now enjoy her well-deserved retirement!” David Dale commented, “Bernice loves animals, especially cats, and always had lots of them on the farm. She can’t have cats where she lives now but has a few stuffed toy ones that she always carries with her. Bernice is very social, she loves visiting with people and you always get one of her big hugs when she sees you. She always has a smile.”

Sadly, Kenny passed away on April 5, 2016. Bernice was also preceded in death by her parents, Ed and Elsie Lehman; her “adoptive parents”, Alice and Ray Dale; and their son, Mark Dale; Alice and Roy Morvig’s daughter, Sue (Morvig) Larson; and her pet kitties, Marybell and Jennie. She is survived by Alice and Ray’s children who were very much her family: Dennis Larson, Ray (Sharon) Dale, Mary (Clayton) Briggs, Greg (Edna) Dale, Pam Dale, Richard (Brenda) Dale, Ronald Dale, David (Brenda) Dale and their families; her DAC and REM families; and many friends. May God richly bless the memory of Bernice Anna Lehman.

A Memorial Service honoring Bernice’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Crookston, MN, with The Rev. Steve Bohler, officiating. Visitation with the family will be from 10-11:00 a.m. The service will be livestreamed by going to Bernice’s obituary page at and clicking on the prompt to view. Inurnment will take place at a later date in the Lehman family plot at Hafslo Cemetery, rural Crookston. Online messages of condolence may be offered on the funeral home website.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bernice Anna Lehman, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Our Savior's Lutheran Church

217 S Broadway, Crookston, MN 56716


Click to watch

Memorial Service at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, 2023, in
Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Crookston, with visitation for one hour prior to the service.

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