David Berckes, age 81, of Canby, passed away on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at the Sanford Canby Medical Center. Husband and father, farmer and friend, traveler and inventor, patriot and collector, he was loved by all and will be greatly missed. A private family Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Canby with burial to follow at the St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery. A Celebration of Life event will be announced at a later date.
David Henry Berckes was born on February 24, 1939, to parents Henry and Elizabeth (Kraus) Berckes of Canby, Minnesota. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter’s Catholic Church of Canby. He attended Airy Knoll, Country School District 38, thru 6th grade, in which he fondly remembered being able to ride his horse to and from school, daily. Dave then attended Canby High School and graduated in 1957. Following high school, Dave enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard, spent six months in active-duty at Fort Lenard Wood and then six years in the Reserves. After a short time as a welder in Minneapolis, Dave returned to Canby to farm with his brother, Gene. Dave was married to Connie Lueders for 23 years, and together they raised five children. Dave enjoyed living and working on the family-farm, traveling, having fun and watching his children grow. Dave always loved adventure and traveled extensively later in life. On one of his trips to Russia with Libby Nemitz in 1991, they married in the Republic of Belarus. Five years later, in 1996, he lost Libby to cancer. In 1997, Dave suffered a spinal cord injury due to a motorcycle accident, leaving him wheelchair bound. Despite his injury, Dave’s tenacious drive and spirit kept him going. Dave enjoyed life to the fullest and has been described by family and friends as—loving, generous, fun, hardworking, daring, positive, honest, intelligent, caring, intimidating, driven, a great storyteller, and a lover of food. Dave enjoyed collecting antiques, hunting, firearms, tractor pulling, innovation, going to casinos, playing cards and Harleys; he owned 26 Harleys in his lifetime. He belonged to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, The Knights of Columbus and The Catholic Order of Foresters. He was a lifetime member of The American Legion—and loved God and his country.
Dave is survived and loved by his five children: Holly (Steven) Muller of Altura, MN, Bonnie Berckes and friend Dan Kaisser of Minneapolis, MN, Dan (Michelle) Berckes of Clear Lake, MN, Shelly (Scott) Horst of Minneapolis, MN, and Nancy (Randy) Jurgenson of Hutchinson, MN; 14 grandchildren: Ryan Lynch, Michael (Beth) Muller, Gabe Muller, Anna Muller, Ted (Amanda) Berckes, Grace (Jordan) Vanderbush, Ruth (Buddy) Whittemore, Justin Horst, Josh Horst, Joy Muller, Jessica Horst, Cassie Jurgenson, John Jurgenson and Devin Jurgenson; and eight great-grandchildren: Sam, Jonah, Gideon, Ben and Rachel Muller, Elijah, Steven and Joseph Whittemore; his sister-in-law, Peggy Berckes and many nieces and nephews.
Dave wanted to extend a special thanks to Deb Jandro for her years of extraordinary caregiving, companionship, friendship and love. She was his constant companion for more than 22 years and enjoyed countless hands of cards, laughter, travels and many great meals together.
Dave cherished his time with Libby, loved her family and appreciated his ongoing presence in their lives. “Papa Dave’s” step-family includes Ben (Kelley) Nemitz of Canby, MN, Renee Nemitz of Canby, MN, Chris (Amy) Nemitz of Canby, MN, Cathy Nemitz (Keith Hanson) of Clarkfield, MN, step-grand and great-grandchildren. Dave is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Elizabeth Berckes, his brother, Gene, his second wife, Libby Nemitz Berckes, and two step-children, Teresa and Bridget Nemitz.