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Ralph Dean Bernard, 70, Columbia, KY native (1949-2020)

He will be remembered as owner of Shelter Insurance agencies and Bernard's Body Shop, and even more for his tireless work as an educator of and advocator for children, both with the Adair County Special Education program and numerous youth-service causes.

Ralph Dean Bernard of Bowling Green, KY, passed away Monday, February 10, 2020. He was 70 years old.

Visitation will be held from 4pmCT to 8pmCT on Thursday, February 13, 2020, at J. C. Kirby & Son Lovers Lane Chapel in Bowling Green, KY.

Visitation will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mitchell Edward Road, Sulphur Well, KY, on the morning of Friday, February 14, 2020, beginning at 10amCT, with funeral to follow at 1pmCT. Dedication of the grave and burial will follow funeral services at the LDS Cemetery in Sulphur Well, KY.

The Columbia, KY native was born on November 23, 1949, in Columbia, Kentucky, the youngest of four children and only son. Ralph was a 1968 graduate of Adair County High School and received both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Western Kentucky University where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

For many years, Ralph owned Shelter Insurance agencies in Columbia, KY, and later Campbellsville, KY, before returning to his first love, teaching. He was an exceptional educator for the Adair County Board of Education, working in the Learning and Behavior Disorders (LBD) special education program. For over 20 years, Ralph owned Bernard's Body Shop, where he was a master in meticulous and artful auto-body repair and restoration--his talent and passion. In 2000, Ralph was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he sustained a massive traumatic head injury. Overcoming certain death and months of rehabilitation, Ralph returned to teach for two years before eventually retiring.

Ralph loved life and lived it with passion and zeal. He loved University of Louisville Cardinals sports, good music (on cassette tapes), traveling, cars and motorcycles, 3 Musketeers bars, and above all else, his family. His children were the axis of his world. He was a friend to many and a stranger to none. He had a disposition that made you an instant friend upon meeting him, and he deeply valued his friendships, both old and new. Ralph spent his life advocating for children, especially those who needed a voice and a champion. He had a particular love of children with critical and terminal illness, having lost his son, Joseph, to Progeria. Over the course of his rich seventy years of life, Ralph received a multitude of business and professional honors, championed youth-service causes, volunteered for The Sunshine Foundation for two decades, gave of his time to any who needed it, quietly and without expectation. Of all he accomplished on this earth, he always noted his greatest as his children, Liz and Jo-Jo.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Betty Ervin Bernard of Bowling Green, and his daughter Elizabeth Bernard (Jim Clark) of Bowling Green; two sisters, Patty (Allen) Green of Columbia, and Alice Faye (Everett, deceased) Wheeler of Columbia; and a host of nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his son Joseph Ralph Bernard and his sister Joann Bernard Darnell.

He was the son of the late Olis Raymond Bernard and Lena Inez Bernard Roden.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Bowling Green or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Online condolences at

The obituary is a courtesy to the family by Stotts-Phelps-McQueary Funeral Home.

This story was posted on 2020-02-12 12:28:35
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Grissom-Martin Funeral Home
Located one block off the Square at 200 Campbellsville Street in Columbia, KY.
To reach David and Cathy Martin, phone (270)-384-2149, or e-mail:
Large enough to serve comfortably; Small enough to serve personally.

G & G Monuments
Todd and Mandi Green and Jared Conover
1670 Liberty Road, Columbia, KY. email:, 270-634-0359
First Quality Marble and Granite

Stotts-Phelps-McQueary Funeral Home
Established 1922 | 210 Greensburg St., Columbia, KY 42728 | Jeff Jessie, Owner
270-384-2145,, email

Ralph Dean Bernard, 70, Columbia, KY native (1949-2020)

2020-02-12 - Bowling Green, KY - Photo courtesy Stotts-Phelps-McQueary Funeral Home.
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