CUBA CITY—Serving communities throughout Southwest Wisconsin, Jerry Berning feels it is important to volunteer to help those around him.
Berning has been in Cuba City for a collective 25 years. He served as the city’s clerk-treasurer for just over nine years, 1970-79, before leaving for 17 years to take a position as clerk-treasurer in Hudson. He returned to Cuba City in 2008, where his five card-playing brothers live, after retirement in 1996. He has gradually become more involved in the Catholic church functions, serving mass in Platteville, being a lector at St. Rose Catholic Church in Cuba City and participating on the St. Rose Parish Council.
Berning is heavily involved in the Knights of Columbus. He joined the organization in 1956 and has been highly active in it since the 1970s. He served as Grand Knight for the Cuba City-Dickeyville-Kieler Council No. 765 in 1970 and for the Belmont Council No. 11884 in 2000. He currently serves as historian for the local Knights of Columbus and prepares an annual newsletter as well as a Knights of Columbus history book. He takes photos of major events, the group’s fundraising activities and volunteer work performed through the Knights of Columbus and keeps track of it being published.
“Certain things just need to be done,” Berning said. “I enjoy writing and taking pictures, so I see to it that they are taken care of.”
He drives seniors to the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities events and also makes regular stops at local nursing homes to talk to the residents and make them feel appreciated. He previously spent one hour a week for seven years marching in protest in front of the Planned Parenthood building in Dubuque until it closed in 2015.
He is a charter member of the KCRD radio station in Dubuque, founded in 2013, and helps them fundraise and document the actions of the group.
“Volunteering is self-fulfilling,” Berning said. “It helps me feel better. We all need a sense of belonging; it is one of the most basic of human needs. Joining these organizations allows me to be around other people. It’s always nice to meet new people and be able to help them out. It makes life more fulfilling.”
While living and working in Hudson, Berning was president of the Rotary Club. His family hosted several exchange students over the years, including students from Brazil, Canary Islands, Germany, Costa Rica, and Australia, and Berning even traveled Belo Horizonte in the province of Minas Gerais, Brazil, to visit one of the former students upon the student’s graduation from medical school.
Berning and his wife, Marilyn (Van De Wiel), have traveled to many countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Brazil and Japan. They have been married for 54 years and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Berning can regularly be seen on his bicycle, pedaling around Cuba City or to Benton.
“I have 9,700 miles on my current bike,” Berning said. “I really enjoy riding. Each Tuesday I ride my bike to Benton and back for Mass.”
He said Cuba City is a beautiful residential community.
“People are here because of the beauty and the lack of congestion,” Berning said. “I like to think of it as a suburb of Dubuque, Platteville and Galena. We have everything we need here to fulfill our basic needs.”
“Jerry does a lot of volunteering without being in the spotlight,” Cuba City Mayor Tom Gile said. “His dedication is to his family, his church, the Knights of Columbus and the city, which he was a part of a number of years back. He always greets you with a smile and big ‘hello.’ Cuba City is lucky to have people like Jerry to help our community be a better place.”
Editor's Note: This column is a special addition to the Tri-County Press on a monthly basis. Look for each installment near the end of the month. All volunteers are recomended for the article by Mayor Tom Gile. If you have ideas for future volunteers in the community to be recognized, contact Gile at 608-744-3203.