Cover photo for Bernard Edward Hietbrink's Obituary
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Bernard Edward Hietbrink

November 23, 1930 — February 24, 2024

Mt. Pleasant

Bernard Edward Hietbrink



The family and friends of Bernard Edward Hietbrink mourn his passing on February 24, 2024 after a long and brave struggle with cancer. He lived life to the fullest for 93 years.

He is survived by his sister, Dorothy (Milford) Markus of Chamberlain, SD , his daughters Deanne (Elgene) Jacobs of Edmond, OK, Beth (Charles) Curry of Decatur, IL, Laura (Ross) Rames of Mt. Pleasant, SC, and son Bernard (Melissa) Hietbrink of Union Valley, TX. He also leaves behind grandchildren Bryan Jacobs, Kristen Crawford, Shannon Holthaus, Nicholas Hagan, Trent Hagan, Samantha Rames, Jess Rames, Noah Hietbrink, and McKenna Hietbrink, as well as 10 great-grandchildren and 2 step-great-grandchildren.

Preceding him in death were his loving wife Agnes Elaine Hietbrink (Jonker), his parents the Reverend Bernard Dirk and Esther Elizabeth (VanDenTak) Hietbrink, and his sister Jean (Tony) Scholten of Brookings, SD.

Bernie was born a Preacher’s Kid on November 23, 1930, in Strasburg, North Dakota. His early years were spent in Little Rock, IA, and Corsica, SD, where he graduated from high school in 1948. In school he developed a love of all sports that lasted his entire life. He especially enjoyed playing basketball, and onlookers may have watched him in a pick-up game while a faculty member of South Dakota State University, at an age that was more than double that of some teammates. (His knees finally sidelined him when he was 56 years old.)

From 1948 to 1950 Bernie attended Northwestern Junior College in Orange City. There, on March 16, 1951, he married the love of his life, A. Elaine Jonker. For 67 years they shared the joys and challenges of marriage: raising a family, enduring separation during military service, developing careers and working, and finally retiring together in northwestern Arkansas. They became world travelers, continued to serve their community, and loved and cherished each other until Elaine passed away on September 5th, 2018.

During the Korean War, Bernie enlisted in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1955, attaining the rank of Airman, First Class. He was stationed at the Kimpo Air Base in Korea in 1952 -1953. There he worked on the radar and gun sights of the F-86 Sabre jets, helping to keep them on-target during sorties and dogfights with North Korean MiGs. During his service, daughters Deanne and Beth were born, underscoring the outsized role Elaine played in the family as he served his country.

On discharge from the USAF in 1955, the young Hietbrink family headed back to South Dakota where Bernie earned his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1958. From there they traveled to the University of Chicago and crowded into student housing as he earned his PhD in Pharmacology in 1961, the same year that daughter Laura arrived. Son Bernie followed closely in 1962 to round out the family. He continued his affiliation at the University of Chicago, where he worked as a Research Associate and Assistant Professor.

South Dakota State University recruited Bernie to join the faculty of the College of Pharmacy in 1964, where he worked diligently for 30 years. He was ultimately promoted to Chairman, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and then served as Dean of the College of Pharmacy from 1987 to 1994. During this time Elaine enjoyed a career with the South Dakota Art Museum on the SDSU campus.

With both Bernie and Elaine retired in 1994, they relocated to Bella Vista, Arkansas, opening a new chapter in their lives. They visited numerous friends and family members, and experienced many adventures while they traveled the country and the world. Both exercised their talents, with Elaine sewing custom clothing while Bernie worked in the wood shop. He was a master craftsman, able to down a tree in the forest and transform it into fine furniture, grandfather clocks, cradles for grandchildren, or anything else that his family and friends might need. He built a home for his family in Brookings, SD, and again in Bella Vista, AR. You might have found him on the roof replacing the shingles, or further down installing a new windows and siding for one or more of his children. Friends would ask, “Can you do this for me?” His answer was almost always yes.

He had almost an obsession for firewood, and many a fallen oak tree’s repose was interrupted by his chain saw. He took pride in the neat pallets of split and stacked hardwood waiting to be fed into the wood stove to keep Elaine and himself warm during the Arkansas winters.

Remaining active in the Bella Vista chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars while living in Arkansas, Bernie served as VFW Commander from 2002- 2003. He also helped memorialize his fellow Veterans by serving in the Bella Vista Honor Guard.

Elaine and Bernie were both vital members of their churches, the Faith Reformed Church in Brookings and the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista. He was a Church Elder and worked as an usher, among other duties. He was rightfully proud of the custom woodwork he did for the Bella Vista church, which included creating 6 doors from scratch for the church entrance, and making shelves and cabinets for the pastor’s office and church library. His solid and beautiful handiwork will continue to serve his church for years to come.

Contributions may be made in honor of Bernard Hietbrink to: South Dakota State College of Pharmacy Brookings, SD or Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista, Bella Vista, AR.

A memorial service will be held at Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista, 1800 Forrest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista, AR 72715 on Saturday, April 27th, 2024 at 10:00 am.

Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc., Mt. Pleasant Chapel. A memorial message may be sent to the family on our website at www.jhenrystuhr.com.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bernard Edward Hietbrink, please visit our flower store.

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