He was born in Oliver Township on December 12, 1916, the son of the late John and Mary (Essler) Bernhardt, and graduated from the Flowing Well School. On June 21, 1941, he was united in marriage to Ruth Bolzman at her parents’ home near Sebewaing.
Joe was a farmer throughout his lifetime, as well as working seven years as a seasonal sugar factory worker in Sebewaing.
He loved farming, and also enjoyed gardening, playing euchre and watching Detroit Tigers ballgames. He loved visiting with family and friends, but especially loved his grandchildren. He was a faithful member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Linkville.
He is survived by his wife of more than 68 years, Ruth Bernhardt, Owendale; two children, Lynn (Dave) Dearing, Cass City, and Jerry (Phoebe) Bernhardt, Caro; five grandchildren, Kelly Stevens and Scott Kelly, Tammy (Gary) Lowe, Joey Sammons, Kristi (John) Atkinson and Jeremy Bernhardt; seven great-grandchildren; four great great-grandchildren; two sisters, Elsie Engelhardt and Susan Dinkel, both of Sebewaing; a brother, Pete Bernhardt, East Tawas; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a brother, John Bernhardt, and a sister, Martha Draschil.
Funeral services were held on Sunday, June 13, 2010, at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Rev. Lee Wenskay, pastor, officiated, with burial taking place in Grandlawn Cemetery near Pigeon.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul Lutheran Church or the Tuscola Medical Care Facility.
Arrangements were handled by the Meyersieck-Bussema Funeral Home, Pigeon.