Bernadine Kargul

January 9, 1929 - January 22, 2016
Redford, MI



Tuesday, January 26, 2016
3:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
(734) 525-9020

Rosary at 7 PM

Driving Directions


Wednesday, January 27, 2016
12:00 PM EST
St Valentine Catholic Church
14841 Beech Daly Rd
Redford, MI 48239
(313) 532-4394

Instate at 11:30AM


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Cardwell Florist
(734) 421-3567

Life Story / Obituary


Truly beautiful inside and out, Bernadine Kargul was a blessing to everyone she met. She was an innovative and creative thinker with a contagious zest for life and a kind, generous and welcoming heart. Bernadine was a fun-loving mother who brought adventure into the lives of her children, and her timeless wisdom and advice was highly sought after by everyone who knew her. Although she was highly accomplished in many areas, she was a humble woman who used her gifts and talents to enhance the lives of all who were lucky enough to be within her circle. Life will never be the same without her, but Bernadine’s family and friends will hold her spirit forever near and dear to their hearts.

It was in 1929 that the collapse of the stock market sent the United States and most of the world into the Great Depression. Bernadine was born to Barney and Genevieve (Trutwin) Zak just ten months prior to the October market crash, on January 9. The family had the good fortune to live in Little Falls, Minnesota, a picturesque, bucolic small town on the Mississippi River, known for being the birthplace of Charles Lindbergh. As the oldest of five children, she was raised along with her siblings, Fred, Dick, Shirley, and Jim.

The decade after the stock market crash was a time of great social and financial turmoil, but in a small rural town like Little Falls, Bernadine's family was able to lead a typically small-town life. Her father worked as an award winning butter maker at a local dairy and her mother was a seamstress and cook. Bernadine was an excellent student: she skipped a grade at the start of elementary school and continued to excel throughout her education. She also enjoyed ice skating, reading, and took piano lessons. As a teenager she began making silver jewelry, and like her mother, she was an accomplished seamstress, making many of her own clothes. After the Zak family moved to Michigan during WWII – Bernadine’s parents got jobs as inspectors in industrial factories in Detroit – Bernadine graduated with high honors from Redford High School. She then went on to pursue pharmacy at Wayne State University. She received her pharmacy degree in 1951, one of few women in her generation to pursue that career.

During her years at Wayne State Bernadine met the man who would change the course of her life forever, John Kargul. He hired her as a pharmaceutical assistant as she was just starting in the pharmacy program. Over the next three years they fell in love and in 1950 they eloped. Bernadine and John took a long cross-country trip for their honeymoon, visiting New Orleans, Arizona, California and Mexico. Together they were blessed with six children, John, Laura, Mike, Tom, Joan, and George.

Bernadine was devoted to her children and she had a way of making the ordinary truly extraordinary. A scientist at heart, she could be relied upon to come up with innovative science fair projects for her children such as making methane from newspaper, feeding white mice digitalis and monitoring the decrease in their heart rate with a homemade stethoscope, and even reconstructing the skeletal system of a raccoon. Eventually, Bernadine became a science fair judge at St. Valentine School. Her creativity also spilled over into her role as a Cub Scout den mother as she was forever cooking up exciting projects. On one occasion, she taught the boys how to make paper mache masks for the characters in Peter and the Wolf. Then, they enacted the play to Prokofiev's score! As a mother Bernadine was strong, even iron-willed and tough at times, but she was also caring, compassionate, and her children’s greatest advocate. She was a genuine nurturer who took care of everyone around her, including stray children and pets. Bernadine was practical and realistic, but she always chose to see the positive in life as well as in people. Highly independent, she took initiative in everything she did and nothing held her back.

With seemingly inexhaustible supplies of energy, Bernadine led a remarkably active life. In her mid-forties, she began working as a hospital pharmacist, which opened up a whole new chapter for her. Bernadine loved her career, as well as her co-workers. She was always very involved in the professional sorority for women pharmacists. For several years, she also ran a commercial real estate business. Travel was one of her greatest passions and she regularly took her children on camping trips all over the country, as well as the Canadian provinces from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver. Bernadine visited every state in the union with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, she traveled to a dizzying array of countries including Holland, Belgium, East and West Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Morocco, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. For many years, Bernadine made regular trips back to Little Falls to visit her large extended family for several weeks, often traveling by train with her children. These trips were always of critical importance to her as she was deeply devoted to her extended family.

Throughout her life Bernadine pursued many different interests. In the years prior to working as a pharmacist she sewed constantly, making most of her own clothes as well as clothes for her children and their dolls. Bernadine’s skills as a seamstress also extended to making Halloween costumes and curtains for the house. She also knitted and crocheted sweaters, scarves and mittens. The ladies of the Greek Church taught her how to cook Greek food. She mastered dishes like moussaka, spanikopita, shish kabob, leg of lamb, and stuffed grape leaves, using leaves she picked from wild vines. Bernadine became most famous for her incredible baklava. She was a gifted oil painter, creating landscapes, seascapes, and portraits of her children. Music held a special place in her heart and she was an avid concert-goer. She especially loved classical music, such as solo piano, symphonic, and operatic literature. She had a great interest in historical novels and art, even taking courses in art history at Wayne State and visiting museums, churches, and sites of antiquity across Europe to view masterworks of art. Later in life, Bernadine developed a great passion for doing research into her Polish family's genealogy, which took her on multiple trips to Salt Lake City and Poland.

Strong, independent and vibrant, Bernadine Kargul was an inspiration and role model to many, many people. She had a great sense of humor with a famously infectious laugh, and all who knew her would agree that she was a gifted and enthusiastic storyteller. Bernadine was devoted to her family and she was a loyal friend who was always there for her loved ones. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.

Bernadine Kargul died on January 22, 2016. Bernadine’s family includes her children, John J. (Carol), Laura, Michael(Lynne) Karagoulis, Tom (Melissa), Joan Baldiga-Kargul and George (Janine); 18 grandchildren, one great-grandchild; and sister, Shirley O’Leary. Bernadine was preceded in death by her husband. Visitation on Tuesday, 3-9p.m. with a Rosary at 7p.m. at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman). Instate at 11:30 a.m. until time of Mass at 12 p.m. Wednesday at St. Valentine Catholic Church 14841 Beech Daly (South of Five Mile). To leave a memory or photo, go to our website at www.TurowskiLifeStory.com