Bernhardt’s efforts had wide impact
IRON RIVER — There are many ways to have a lasting impact on a community and two of the most powerful are to preserve its history and to educate its students.
Marcia Bernhardt did both, and so much more. Bernhardt, 93, died on Dec. 4 in Williamston, passing away “peacefully” according to her loved ones.
Bernhardt served her community in many ways. First, she was a teacher in the Amasa, Stambaugh, and Iron River schools, educating more than 4,000 students during her career.
Marcia met her husband Harold after his discharge from the Army and the couple was married in 1948 in East Lansing. The Bernhardts both became educators, and both became instrumental in the founding of the Iron County Historical Museum.
Marcia served in many positions with the museum, including curator and archivist, dedicating more than 50 years to the museum and to historical preservation in Iron County and the U.P.
“There is no doubt that Marcia and Harold Bernhardt were the driving forces behind the establishment of the Iron County Museum,” said former museum board president and interim director Bill Leonoff. “Harold worked with a crew of artisans to create the physical structure while Marcia organized the operation of the museum by registering the donations that were received.
“Once the museum opened to the public, it was Marcia who documented the history through her many published books describing the various facets of Iron County life. Marcia’s work in developing the museum archives was a monumental contribution to the history of the county. While many people contributed to the success of the museum, as founders, Harold and Marcia ‘were the museum.’”
Marcia also edited and/or authored more than 15 books that were published by the museum in addition to another four books related to the history of her community and family. She helped establish the West Iron County District Library and served on its board for many years. Her other community service included her leadership in the Iron County Junior Historical Society and many projects such as the Apple Blossom Trail.
Marcia was preceded in death by her husband and her daughter Debra. She is survived by her daughter, Andra (Michael) Ladd and many family members.
A memorial service will be held at St. Katherine’s Episcopal Church in Williamston on Jan. 11. A celebration of Marcia’s life will be held next summer in Iron River. Her complete obituary is on page 6.