Don Wallace Bernhard, formerly of Austin and Georgetown, passed away on August 28, 2019 at his home in Elgin, Texas.
Don had a blessed life. He was born Walter Allison Tennison at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on September 17, 1940. His birth mother arranged for his care with relatives, Adelbert “Dutch” and Lois Bernhard who officially adopted him at the end of WWII when they moved back to Kerrville, Texas, their hometown.
Don felt that growing up in Kerrville was a blessing itself. He learned to swim in the Guadalupe River and had his first job as a paper boy with the Kerrville Times. Don was in the Tivy High School band and graduated from Tivy in 1958, remaining an avid follower of the Tivy Antlers throughout his life. Don attended Schreiner Institute, Northeast Louisiana State and the University of Texas while working during the summers as an architectural draftsman, during which time he did the plans for James Avery’s first work studio and the dining hall at Camp Chrysalis.
Another blessing occurred in 1961 when Wilma Council of Kerrville arranged a blind date with her UT roommate, Rebecca Eschberger, of McDade, Texas. After several dates, Don joined the Navy, but correspondence with Becky continued. By design or coincidence, Becky and Wilma spent the summer of ’62 in California with a former UT suite mate while Don was stationed in San Diego. The summer was a continuous beach party, and with Becky foregoing a return to Texas at summer’s end, the stage was set. Lacking one day of being a year from that eventful blind date, Don and Becky were married at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Elgin, Texas on December 29, 1962.
Don served in the Navy for 6 years. While still in boot camp, he was interviewed by engineers in the Design Department of USNTC Public Works, where he spent the following year. After that he was head draftsman on an unarmed oceanographic survey ship in the North Pacific and Bering Sea. Don said that it was eerie to have a Russian submarine surface right in front of you. Don then served in the Pentagon preparing and presenting briefing data to the CNO, Navy Intelligence and members of the Joint Chiefs during the Vietnam War.
While in the Navy other blessings occurred when Becky gave birth to a daughter, Tara Lynn, in California in 1965, and a son, Gregory Scott, 2 years later in Virginia. After leaving the Navy, the young family settled in central Texas where Don was with consulting engineering firms for 46 years involved in projects throughout the state, including over 20 rural water supply corporations such as Aqua WSC, and the initial water systems for Cedar Park, Leander and Liberty Hill. Don was also responsible for other municipal projects, such as city halls for the cities of Leander and Taylor. He retired from Steger Bizzell Engineers of Georgetown, Texas as project manager in 2013. Beside engineering firm projects, Don continued to provide architectural services for numerous residences and other buildings in the Austin area.
Don was a burnt orange Longhorn. He and his family were UT football season ticket holders for 30 years, especially enjoying traveling to out of state Longhorn football games. Don was active in organizations with his children such as YMCA Indian Guides, PTA at T.A. Brown Elementary in Austin, and Georgetown Band Boosters in Georgetown. Upon retirement, Don was an active member of Faith Lutheran Church in McDade, serving on church council.
Yes, Don’s life was definitely blessed. He is survived by Becky, his wife of 56 years, daughter, Tara, of St. Louis and son, Greg, of McDade.
A memorial service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in McDade Texas on Tuesday September 3, 2019 at 11:00 AM with Fellowship and Repast following the service.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made to Faith Lutheran’s Memorial Fund or a philanthropy of one’s choice.
To send flowers to Don's family, please visit our floral section.
Faith Lutheran Church of McDade - Memorial Fund
230 Waco Street, McDade TX 78650