The Behrends philosophy of charity was instilled early in childhood
through the teachings of the Lutheran church. Bernie and his older
sister, Anna, were raised by their widowed mother and grandfather to
help others when possible through service to their church and the
public. They were taught to view their contributions as a privilege
that would ultimately strengthen society as a whole.
success and prosperity as adults, Bernie and Anna have sustained
these fundamental Christian principles through consistent and
generous donations to their alma mater, Lincoln College, hoping the
recipients of their charity will someday "pay it back" by helping
others as well.
Bernie was born in Lincoln on July 27, 1921, and
received his primary and secondary education through the Lincoln
public school system.
After being honorably discharged from the
United States Navy in 1946 following three years of active duty
during World War II, he was allowed to pursue his postsecondary
education through financial assistance provided by the GI Bill of
Rights. He attended Lincoln College from 1946 through 1948 and upon
graduation continued his studies at Bradley University in Peoria
from 1948 to 1950.
He graduated from Bradley with a
bachelor's degree in general engineering and worked the next 32
years as a civil engineer with the Illinois Department of
Transportation until his retirement in 1982.
While successfully advancing in his profession, he put into
practice the charitable lessons of his youth and began helping
others by volunteering his time and talents in numerous capacities.
First he served for six years as vice president of Immanuel Lutheran
Church and treasurer of their building committee until 1963. During
the Vietnam War, he worked as a member of the Logan County Selective
Service Board. He then was assigned to the board of trustees at
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital from 1967 to 1973, followed by an
eight-year stint as a member of the Logan County Election Board. In 1992,
he was elected to the board of trustees at
Lincoln College, an educational appointment that he holds in high
regard to this day.
As if this impressive record of service isn't
enough, he is also a lifetime member of a long list of admirable
organizations, including American Legion, Forty & Eight, Veterans of
Foreign Wars, American Veterans, Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks 914, Lincoln Masonic Lodge, Springfield Consistory, Ansar
Shrine, Logan County Shrine and the Legion of Honor.
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From his position on the board of trustees at Lincoln College,
Behrends has worked to provide financial assistance for needy,
worthy and qualified high school graduates from Logan County who
wish to better themselves through a quality education at Lincoln
College. In 1998, with the support of his sister, Bernie established
the Anna and Bernard Behrends Endowed Scholarship Fund, allowing
more than 40 students to attend college since its inception.
he was instrumental in founding the Logan County Voiture 985 of the
Forty & Eight Nurses in Training Scholarship. To date this program
has helped more than 15 students pursue an education in the field of
So great are Bernie and Anna's contributions that the new
admissions building on the Lincoln College campus was dedicated in
their honor in 2002 and is now known as the Anna K. and Bernard E. Behrends Admissions Building at Lincoln College.
Bernard "Bernie" Behrends continues his legacy of educational
service to Lincoln and the surrounding community with no apparent
signs of slowing.
When pressed to explain why he and his sister have dedicated their lives and resources to the educational pursuits
of the underprivileged, he responds simply with conviction:
"Education is what's important! We knew we could do more to help
others. The whole point in life is to help people."
Honest Abe would undoubtedly agree.
[By KATHLEEN H. WHEELER, Omni