Bernice McNeely Kulju, 87, of Green Bay Wisconsin, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of January 30, 2023 with her family by her side.
Bernice was born on May 27, 1935 in Powers Michigan to Donald and Margaret McNeely. She grew up on a farm, but after graduation, she left to attend Northern Michigan University in Marquette MI to obtain her teaching certificate. Bernice then acquired a teaching position in the area and rented a room from Charlotte and Art Lehtinen. Their cousin, Roy Kulju, came over for a blind date with the “new teacher in town” and a love story between Roy and Bernice continued for 62 years!
After getting married, Roy and Bernice settled in Green Bay WI where they lived out the rest of their lives. They had two children, Kirsten and Mark, so Bernice stayed home to care for them. Once their kids were older, Bernice worked for many years in the Howard-Suamico School District in a variety of roles—substitute teaching, administrative positions, and library aide.
During retirement, Roy and Bernice spent several months of every winter taking their RV down to Florida to get out of the cold weather in Wisconsin. They went to multiple cities in Florida to visit friends and to also spend time with their daughter and grandsons in Florida.
Bernice was an avid and very talented crafter. She was an amazing quilter (we have all benefited from getting beautiful quilts) and has won many awards from entering quilting shows. She was also very talented in sewing, knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, and needlepoint. After Roy’s passing in 2021, Bernice moved into Emerald Bay Retirement Community in Hobart Wisconsin. She made many new friends there, was very active in all the activities, and even entered some of her craft projects into the craft shows held by the facility.
Bernice is survived by her children- daughter Kirsten Kulju Gonzalez (Jorge) of Palm City FL; son Mark Kulju (Lori) of Green Bay WI; grandsons Jon and Jake in Florida; and Matt (Chase) and Ben living in Chicago IL. She is also survived by her sister- in-laws—Mavina (John) of Champion Michigan, Marilyn Branchau of Republic Michigan, Joanne Kulju of Champion MI, and her brother-in-law Tommy Prophet of Champion MI, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by the love of her life, Roy, her brother Dean and his wife Susan, and her parents.
Visitation with the family will be held on Saturday, February 4, 2023 from 10:30 AM to noon, followed by a service at noon at Peace Lutheran Church in Hobart Wisconsin.
The family wishes to extend their thanks to the wonderful staff at Emerald Bay Retirement Community for their continued wonderful care of Bernice, especially Randy and the activities director Kris.