Bernard Joseph Wetzstein, 94, of Buhl passed away August 31, 2022 at his home in Buhl, surrounded by family. Bernard was also known as “Bernie” or “BJ” to many. He was born the oldest of 10 children to Ben and Cecilia Gietzen Wetzstein in Glen Ullin, North Dakota on May 9, 1928. His birthright became an important factor as he remained a leader to his siblings and their families his whole life. He worked on the farm and nearby railroad as a youth to help support them through tough times of the Great Depression. From this, his role and responsibilities were instilled in him at a young age.
He entered the U.S. Navy at age 18 while his family and fiancé moved to Idaho. When he returned home, he settled in Idaho with his family and new wife-to-be.
He married Frances Ann Eckroth on June 9, 1948 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Buhl. They were married 55 years before her passing in 2003. From this union 11 children were born. This continued his role as the family patriarch, always taking pride in knowing he instilled strong disciplines, thrifty living, and great work ethics into his children.
BJ worked several construction projects before establishing his own custom gravel hauling business. He was an entrepreneur and frugal one-man operation helping on many local projects. He enjoyed going for drives around the countryside after retiring to reminisce about places he helped make better and the people that lived there. He marveled at the changes occurring over time.
He loved playing pinochle but his ruthless tactics and keen mind made for a difficult time for his family to enjoy the game with him. He made time in his day to meet with his pals at many local Buhl businesses to play. After outliving most of his pals, he softened his ways and started teaching more family, giving him the opportunity to play again. Sunday afternoons became his highlight game of the week to those that came to his home and helped him continue his passion. He kept his love of pinochle and puzzles with him until the very end. He also loved to go to the hills and to cut firewood, turning it into a family outing and way of life for many years. He remained a lifelong member of his local church and was also a 4th degree charter member of the Buhl Council of Knights of Columbus. Family genealogy was important to him, and he continued to follow the Germans from Russian ancestor heritage in North Dakota.
Bernard is survived by nine of his children, Patsy (Bob) Foster of Pocatello; Arnie (Shawnlee) of McGregor, Iowa; Allan (Eileen) of Chorley, England; Glenda (Bob Schwertfeger) Brown of Twin Falls; Connie (Tom) Brezinski of Long Beach, California; Pam (Larry) Gore of Buhl; Melanie Wetzstein of Buhl; Karen (Mike) Schulz of Twin Falls; Cecil (Shanna) Wetzstein of Kimberly; and Bernice (Jamie) McCreery of Buhl; as well countless grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and so many others considered family.
He was preceded in death by both of his parents; all siblings; his wife; son, Darrell; infant son, Wayne; as well as several grand and great-grand babies.
A viewing will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., with Rosary beginning at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1701 Poplar St., Buhl. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, September 8, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, with a luncheon to follow in the Parish Hall. All are encouraged to join and share your stories. A private family graveside will be held at West End Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to your choice of charity.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on BJ’s memorial webpage at www.farmerfuneralchapel.com.