Bernard Hartley

Bernard Hartley of Eaton Rapids, MI passed away on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, at the age of 86. Bernie was the forth born of six children to Ernest and Dorothy (DeMitchell) Hartley on July 5, 1936, in Bay City, MI.
Bernie was born into a very talented musical family. The Hartley Family Band was formed in 1949 and played throughout lower mid-Michigan until 1955. Bernie could get that fiddle smokin’ playing “The Orange Blossom Special” while the audience cheered him on! At their peak, they had several radio and TV shows and were voted Michigan’s favorite band! This love of music lasted his whole life. He joined several bands and orchestras over the years and proudly started the Eaton Rapids Senior Center Jam Session, where he was MC for over 20 years.
Bernie met the love of his life, Patricia Diamond in 1953, at the A & W Restaurant in Bay City, where Pat worked as a car hop. They were married on February 3, 1955.
Bernie started working at Farm Bureau in 1956 and attended MSU (’57-’59) full-time. He was hired by Oldsmobile in the early 1960’s; management saw his potential, he was put into a skilled trades apprenticeship, Experimental Sheet-Metal. Bernie gave many guitar lessons to co-workers during his lunch breaks and several of them planned yearly fishing trips to Minnesota. Before retiring, Oldsmobile sent him to Northwestern Elementary School in their Community Service program. He taught music, organized a coat/shoe drive, and a camping trip held at the school for kids who had never experienced camping. In the early 1990’s, he was presented with the “Downhome Hero Award.” Years after retirement, he occasionally ran into some of those kids, all grown up, but they recognized him as their music teacher. Through his time at GM, Bernie was sent to California, Louisiana, and England, to put on Cadam presentations before his retirement in the early 1990’s.
Bernie and Pat raised three children, Mary, Patti and Bernie II in Lansing. He was the best dad ever! His children always knew how much they were wanted and loved; he would do anything for them. In 1978, they moved to Eaton Rapids, and got a Collie they named Lance. Bernie was excited about building his dream home, an earth-sheltered house that he designed. He was so proud of his house that he and Pat built together. Bernie and Pat went on many trips and cruises during their marriage. Their favorite trip was to Alaska, with Pat’s sister/brother-in law, Dudy and Jake. Bernie had so many hobbies/interests, Karate, dancing, swimming, music, reading, traveling, playing bingo and going to the casino. Their love affair lasted sixty-seven years until Pat’s passing in April 2022. Bernie and Pat had a wonderful life together. When Pat died in the spring, the spark in his blue eyes was gone. He missed his girl so much. Life was never the same for him as much as his kids hoped and prayed for a better outcome. His passing has left a tremendous void in their lives and their hearts. Their kids were deeply blessed to have them as their parents and to love them all these years.
Bernie was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Pat of 67 years; siblings, Duane, Danny, Ernest and Bruce; infant daughter, Kimberly; daughter Patti Vogel; and grandson, Jeffrey Hancock. He is survived by his sister, Judy Alexander; daughter, Mary Hancock; son, Bernie Hartley II (Michelle); grandchildren , Julee Hanna (Chris), Natalie Vogel, Nick Vogel, Jesse Hartley; and great-grandchildren, Olivia Hancock, Ryan Hanna and Alex Hanna.
A memorial service will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2022, with a visitation one hour prior to the service at Skinner Funeral Home in Eaton Rapids, with a luncheon on site to follow. For those desiring, memorial contributions may be made to the Eaton Rapids Senior Center in memory of Bernard Hartley. To share memories or leave condolences, please visit Special thanks to Jon and Liz at Skinner Funeral Home for handling all the details for us to make the celebration of Bernie’s life so special!