Bernell "B.J." Palas

Bernell “B.J.” Palas, 72, of Waterville died Friday, March 2, 2018 at Elkader Care Center in Elkader. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, March 7 at 11 a.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church in Waukon, with Pastor Bill Odermann officiating. Burial will be at Sixteen Cemetery, rural Monona. Friends may call from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at Martin Funeral Home in Waukon.

Bernell James "B.J." Palas was born May 9, 1945 in Waukon, the son of Henry George and Alice Ruth (Svebakken) Palas. After graduating from Waukon High School and serving for a time in the National Guard, he continued his life in his own unique style.

B.J. Palas was a man who had a knack for turning even life's most trying times into a joke that could shake the bellies and ease the souls of everyone around him. He was a hardworking, I'll-do-it-myself sort of man who spent more than two decades farming and much of his well-lived life outdoors enjoying nature. He drove an LP gas truck for FS until he retired.

B.J. was a wild young guy whose antics resulted in breaking his back not once, but three times. At 20, he had his first daughter, and over the next 13 years, two more would follow. B.J. was the kind of father who tied a sled to his snowmobile and pulled the girls along on his adventures. He taught his daughters to ride dirt bikes, to milk cows, and to hunt crawdads. B.J. was a grandpa to five granddaughters who he enjoyed crafting things for. From a tree that held stuffed animals to a two-story mansion of a dollhouse, he showed his adoration for his granddaughters through his woodworking and nickname-giving.

He has spent the last 20 years with the love of his life, Verna Johanningmeier. Their love story began one fateful winter night when Verna ran out of gas and B.J. came to her rescue by refilling her tank. It was then that he surprised her by asking her out for supper. B.J. and Verna built a house together and have spent the last two decades taking trips to Florida and turning their time together into a series of wonderful adventures. B.J. truly valued the people in his life, including his friends whom he met up with every weekday at 6 a.m. for a hot cup of coffee and a few jokes. He and his longtime friend, Don Kruse, enjoyed hunting and trapping. B.J. also enjoyed fishing with his pals. He was well-loved and he surely will be missed.

Surviving family members include his three daughters and their families: Teresa Severson of Lansing and her three children, Teela, Chloe, and Malisa (Ian) Walters and their daughter, Lane; Michella (Rick) Ferring of Lansing; and Kristin (Creig) Dunlap of Elkader and their children, Rayann and August; his life partner for the past 20 years, Verna Johanningmeier of Waterville; a stepdaughter, Dana Douglass; and three siblings: Ernest (LaVonne) Palas, Donnalee (Ernest) Osland and Ada Marie (Leslie Jr.) Kerndt, all of Waukon.

Thank you to the team at Elkader Care Center for the excellent loving care you provided during his last days of life. You were so kind to not only our dad but to our family, and we will forever be grateful. Also, thank you to Crossing Rivers Hospice for the outstanding care, comfort and knowledge.

Honorary casketbearers are Don Ellingson, Lynn Folsom, Don Kruse, Greg Palas and Dominic Damiano. Casketbearers are Tyler O'Neill, Brian Kerndt, Dave Martin and Jeremy Troendle.

Online condolences may be left at

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