Cover photo for Bernice M. Salminen's Obituary
1931 Bernice 2024

Bernice M. Salminen

June 23, 1931 — February 10, 2024

BERNICE MARIE (SAMANEN) SALMINEN

Bernice was born as the daughter of Waino Samanen in Chatham, MI, on June 23, 1931, of Finnish descent. In her infancy, Bernice was raised by her grandparents, John Henry and Tilda Marie (Vilkkila) Samanen, while her father was in a tuberculosis sanitarium. Her great aunts Vilma Hautamaki, Aune Hautamaki, and Ruth Hautamaki were also caregivers for Bernice.

Bernice met her future husband, Nestor Salminen, in elementary school. They were dating by the time she graduated high school as valedictorian of the class of 1949. In light of losing her father just prior to graduation, she gave up a full ride scholarship to the University of Michigan to earn her associate degree at Suomi College and Theological Seminary.

Bernice dedicated her time to her family as a loving wife and mother and to her career as a teacher. Bernice and Nestor married in Chicago, IL, on July 12, 1952. They lived in Panama City, FL, while Nestor was in the United States Air Force and later returned to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for Nestor to get his education. Bernice was instrumental in helping her husband obtain his degree as he worked several jobs to make ends meet. They made a home and raised four children in Warren, MI.

Bernice began substitute teaching while obtaining a Bachelor of Education degree from Oakland University. She worked as a Master Teacher in the elementary and junior high levels in the Warren Consolidated School District, where she later retired. She belonged to the WEA, MEA, and NEA teacher unions.

In retirement, Bernice and Nestor enjoyed time at their second home in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Bernice continued to substitute teach, and they spent time with their childhood friends Pastor Les and Marcia Niemi and Pastor Harold and Joy Kallio. She also attended Bible studies at Lamb of God in Lake Havasu City, AZ, and at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, MI. Bernice and Nestor explored the world, visited family, and took in the beauty of places, including Finland, Germany, Banff, Massachusetts, and states across the American West.

Bernice was an avid reader, especially of the Bible and religious books and prayers. She loved the theater, played the violin and piano, and enjoyed puzzles. She was fluent in Finnish and was proud of her heritage.

Bernice’s greatest joy was spending time with her family. She thoroughly loved caring for and spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She treasured any opportunity to bring the family together, especially when hosting holiday meals. Nearly every member of the family shares fond memories of swimming, playing games, and relaxing in one another’s company at Bernice and Nestor’s cottage on Blue Lake in Meredith, MI. Bernice worked hard to keep the cottage in great condition, especially raking leaves.

Bernice passed away peacefully in hospice care at Troy Beaumont Hospital after an accidental fall. She will be dearly missed.

Bernice was predeceased by her husband Nestor, her father Waino, her grandparents who had adopted her, and her aunts and uncles.

Bernice is survived by her children Mark (Joanne) Salminen, Steve (Denise) Salminen, Debra (Kenneth) Risko, and Darlene (Brian) Conroy. 

Bernice is also survived by her grandchildren Jennifer (Curtis) Smith, Jason Salminen, Lindsay (Jesse Knott) Salminen, Alisha (Kyle) Cooper, Lauren (Dan) Lee, Matthew Salminen, Kimberly Salminen, Kelly (John) Forintos, Steven (Kyle Maddens) Risko, Sarah (Brenna Link) Conroy, and Aaron (Colleen) Conroy.

Her surviving great-grandchildren are Lucas Smith, Owen Smith, Logan Cooper, Preston Cooper, Jordan Lee, Mazie Salminen Knott, and Gustav Salminen Knott.

Bernice is also survived by her first cousins Bernhardt (Vicki) Hautamaki, Rudolph (Eva) Hautamaki, and James Hautamaki.

Bernice’s family will welcome all to a visitation on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 beginning at 10am-11am until the time of the funeral service at 11am-11:45am in the chapel at Faith Troy Lutheran Church, located at 37635 Dequindre Road, Troy, Michigan. A luncheon reception in Bernice’s honor will be held in an event room at the church immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Bernice (Samanen) Salminen’s honor to either:

  1. Faith Troy Lutheran Church, 37635 Dequindre Road, Troy, MI 48083 with the Memo: Children’s & Youth Education Ministries.
  2. Superior Central Schools, PO Box 148, E2865 State Rd. M-94, Eben Junction, Michigan 49825 with notation for scholarships for graduating seniors to community college, university, or vocational training (in memory of Bernice (Samanen) Salminen Class of 1949).


The burial will be held in Spring of 2024 at the Pine Grove Cemetery, Chatham, Michigan with Bowerman Funeral Home of Munising, Michigan assisting.

 Condolances may be left for Bernice's family at https://www.desmondfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Bernice-Marie-Samanen-Salminen?obId=30707668#/obituaryInfo

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