Cover photo for Philip Berner's Obituary
Philip Berner Profile Photo

Philip Berner

Phil loved his family deeply and deeply missed his wife Joyce after she passed in 2013. His prevailing wish was to be with her, and his wish was granted on July 15, 2021 when he passed away from natural causes.

Phil was born on March 6, 1938 in Mishawaka, Indiana, to Hilary and Catherine Berner. He had three brothers and two sisters (all now deceased). Originally from Mishawaka, the family moved to Otsego where Phil graduated from Otsego High School in 1956. He married the love of his life, Joyce Livingston, on July 22, 1962 and resided across from Leighton’s Mill Pond for 50 years where they raised their three children Laurie, Sean and Brent.

Phil loved cars – Corvette, Porsche, Chevy – anything that purred and went fast.  He shared that love with his sons Sean and Brent. They made an annual trip to Auburn, IN for the big car show and auction.  Big dually trucks turned out to be his final love and he passed that on to Brent. His daughter Laurie loved horses and he spent many years traveling to horse shows throughout Michigan on the weekends May – September. Acting as Laurie’s “groom” he drove the motorhome and horse trailer, including trips to Oklahoma City and Denver for national competitions.

Traveling with Joyce and the kids was frequent over the years. When the kids were grown, Phil and Joyce enjoyed international travel together visiting Venezuela, France, Ireland, Scotland and many islands as they cruised the Caribbean.

Phil was a born salesman and his achievements were many. His career began at Michigan Brand Cottage Cheese and he grew the business over the next 10 years. His company eventually evolved into Bernea Foods, a food distribution company servicing Michigan, Northern Indiana and Ohio. Phil was innovative and created many products that impacted the food distribution and trucking industry. Amongst his achievements, Phil brought Yoplait Yogurt to the United States having earned their National Distribution Contract. In addition, Bernea had its own line of high quality, fresh dairy products and Chef Bernea pies (made from Michigan fruit – apple, cherry and blueberry). They were such a hit former Governor Engler came to Bernea for a visit and a press conference. Bernea was very successful for 22 years, after which Phil retired and sold the company to its biggest competitor, I&K Distributors.  He then spent over 20 years delivering campers across the U.S. He just loved to drive on down the highway.

Phil is survived by daughter, Laurie (Tim) Andrus, sons, Terry Rand, Sean (Pam) and Brent (Merri); step-son, Todd (Loyale) Albright; many grandchildren including, Cameron and Marissa Andrus and Samantha and Enzo Berner along with many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife and siblings, Rosemary Anson, William Berner, Jerome Berner, Mary Catherine Folkert and Frederick Berner.

Friends may visit with Phil’s family from 2-4 PM and 6-8 PM, Monday, July 19, 2021 at the Winkel Funeral Home, Otsego, with a Rosary service starting at 7:30 P.M.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 A.M., Tuesday, July 20, 2021 at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Otsego, with Rev. Fr. Simon Manjooran officiating.

Burial will follow at Mountain Home Cemetery in Otsego.

Contributions in memory of Phil may be made to

Wishbone Animal Rescue


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Condolence Messages

Carolyn Largent

July 16, 2021 at 4:57 pm

I am so sorry to hear about Phil. My thoughts and prayers for the family.


Kim and Adam Rohr

July 16, 2021 at 6:03 pm

Your dad is now reunited in heaven with your mom. Our thoughts, prayers and hugs to the entire Berner/Andrus family.


Kim Callen

July 16, 2021 at 6:53 pm

Laurie, Tim, Marissa and Cameron, please accept my condolences on the loss of your Father, Father-in-law and Grandfather. There are no words that can be said to ease your pain and loss. Just know we are thinking of all of you.


Chris Scott

July 16, 2021 at 8:59 pm

Mr. Phil you are a great man and wonderful Dad, life is forever changed without you in it. Prayers of love go out to your family.


Deborah mendez

July 16, 2021 at 10:51 pm

Laurie so sorry to learn of the passing of ur father now he and Joyce can dance forever.



July 17, 2021 at 12:25 am

So many fond memories of your dad – he will be missed. He was a longtime Otsego resident with many stories of the good old days. My condolences to your family on the loss of a very special man. Love and prayers, sweet friends.


Bob Mason

July 17, 2021 at 7:36 am

Brent, So sorry to hear of the loss of your father. My condolences go out to you and your family.


Kelly A Colwell

July 17, 2021 at 8:44 am

“In life, we loved you dearly, in death we love you still. In our hearts you hold a place, no one else will ever fill” – Unknown

My condolences and prayers for you and your family.


Jackie & Elgin Vines

July 17, 2021 at 9:54 am

Our deepest condolences on the loss of your father, Laurie. Although he wanted to join your mom, we know you’ll miss having him in your lives in the years ahead. May he rest in peace.


Rick & Sandi Lafountain

July 17, 2021 at 1:52 pm

So Sorry Brent for your loss & the loss to your family. Your dad Will be Greatly missed. Always loved listening to his travel stories etc. when he’d stop by. R & S Lafountain


Steve & Jan Myers-Carpenter

July 17, 2021 at 2:55 pm

Laurie, Sean, Brent and families: It’s never easy to loose our parents and there are no words that make the pain go away. Just know that we are near if you ever need a thing and we send you healing thoughts and prayers to get

you this this difficult time.


Sally Oge

July 18, 2021 at 10:22 am

So sorry for your lose, my prayers are with the Family.


Ava Randolph

July 18, 2021 at 3:55 pm

My deepest condolences on the loss of your father.


Don & Sherri Ferguson

July 19, 2021 at 2:02 pm

Brent & Family,

So sorry to hear about the passing of your father. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.


Craig & Lorna

July 23, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Tim & Laurie and family, we are saddened to learn of Phil’s passing. He was always upbeat and a pleasure to work with as well as to know. We’re happy for him now that he has joined your mother in Heaven, which is what he longed for since her passing.

God bless.


Art Lindsey

September 4, 2021 at 11:19 pm

Phil was a great guy to work for and truly a great person. Michigan Cottage cheese and Bernea’ products still on the shelves here in Indiana!

Thanks Phil!


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