Donald Bernacchi

Donald E. Bernacchi

Monday, May 25th, 1931 - Thursday, May 14th, 2020
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Born to this life May 25, 1931 to Ernest and Mary Bernacchi. Born to eternal life May 14, 2020 at the age of 88.

Preceded in death by his beloved wife Joyce (nee Waddell), his parents and brother Alfred (Mary) Bernacchi. Loving father of Donna (Robert) Lawien, David Bernacchi and Diane (Randy) Kunstmann. Proud Grandfather of Joel (Denise) Lawien, Toni (John) Genske and Tyler (Karen) Kunstmann and joy filled Great Grandfather of Sean and Molly Lawien and Jack and Maya Genske.

Don lived a full, active and rewarding life. Once you met him you did not forget him and he did not forget you. Following his graduation from Messmer High School he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He proudly served his country during the Korean War from 1949 to 1952. Upon his return home he met and married his devoted wife of 53 years, Joyce. Don’s dream was to be a school teacher and in 1962 he saw this dream become reality as he began his 57 year career as a Catholic school teacher. Don began teaching social studies with the Schoenstatt Sisters at St. Philip Neri in Milwaukee. Following his time at SPN he taught at St. Dominic’s, Brookfield and St. John the Evangelist, Greenfield. He retired from full-time teaching in 1995 and continued to share his love of social studies as a substitute teacher at St. John the Evangelist, Holy Apostles and Christ King Catholic Schools. His last day in the classroom, where he often said the Holy Spirit comes to me, was in the fall of 2019.

Don was called to serve. Following his retirement from full time teaching he secured the position of Supervisor for Guest Services at the Wisconsin State Fair. For nearly 20 years he coordinated and led groups of enthusiastic information booth workers who shared his love for the fair and service to the guests. Don was a member of the Elks Lodge #46 and continued this calling by helping serve at the senior meal program.

Don was dedicated to supporting this family and held many other positions most notably at Roundy’s as warehouse supervisor.

Don enjoyed both playing and watching sports, he was a Packer season ticket holder from the days of County Stadium and Vince Lombardi, he also enjoyed basketball and coached CYO ball for many years. He enjoyed horse racing and was a member of the Brown Deer Men’s Golf Club. As an avid golfer throughout his life he was proud to say that he could still beat his grandsons.

There are countless students, teachers, golf buddies, friends and colleagues who touched Don’s life and he theirs. Of particular importance to him was the Macik family who became an extension of his own. We are especially grateful to the families of Greg and Steve for their friendship and care.

A Funeral Mass at Blessed Savior Catholic Church and interment at Holy Cross Cemetery will be private. A celebration of Don’s life will be scheduled at a later date. Please check the Schramka Funeral Home website for that information.

The family would like to thank Eric and the staff at Menomonee Place and Nicole from Allay Hospice who cared for Don in his final days.

In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to St. John the Evangelist, Holy Apostles, or Christ King Catholic School.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Holy Cross Cemetery
    7301 West Nash Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53216
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Private family interment.


  • Air Force
  • Elks Lodge


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Timothy Kappeler

Posted at 03:43pm
As a friend of Steve Macik, I was honored to know Don and I attended many Packer games with him. It was always a pleasure to talk about history with Don. He will be greatly missed. My sincerest condolences to his family.

Karen Higgins Hendrickson

Posted at 10:23pm
I knew Don when I was a little girl. He was in the same class at Messmer (1949) as my parents, Pat and Patricia (Richardson) Higgins and he remained friends with my dad for some years thereafter. I remember him at softball league games where he and my dad played, and at family picnics at the Green 7 bar, owned by another Messmer alum, Don Johnson. Mr. Bernacchi was especially kind to my sisters and I, and I was always happy to see him. My parents have been gone a while now; some of my fondest childhood memories include times with their friends who modeled for us the highest level of generosity, integrity and goodness. Don was one of the people who set such an example that, more than 60 years later, I remember him still with respect and fondness. May he rest in love and peace.

Mark Capriolo

Posted at 01:15pm
My sincere condolences to your entire family on the loss of 'the Don'. I only got to briefly meet him once prior to our 2016 trip to Italy, but from the stories, I have no doubt he was a truly remarkable man and will be deeply missed by everyone who got to know him.
Mark Capriolo


Philip J Delgado

Posted at 02:45pm
What a wonderful man you were!
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Nicole Zimdars

Posted at 02:45pm
Donna and family,
So sorry for your family's loss. Many prayers and hugs during this difficult time.
Nicole Zimdars

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