Bernadette Whalen

Bernadette M. Whalen, 96, of Waukon died Friday, February 19, 2021 at Good Samaritan Center in Waukon. Funeral services were held Monday, February 22 at St. Mary’s Lycurgus Catholic Church in rural Waukon with Fr. John Moser officiating. Burial was at the church cemetery.

Bernadette Margaret Whalen was born December 22, 1924 in rural Dorchester, the daughter of James and Nora (Griffin) Larkin. The weather was too cold for the doctor from New Albin to come so her father had to get their neighbor, Bridget McLaughlin, to deliver her at home.

She was baptized and had first communion at St. Mary’s Church in Dorchester.

Bernadette went to grade school at Harmony Grade School, her freshman year was at Cathedral High School in Sioux City, and she graduated from Harper Ferry High School in 1943. She then attended Upper Iowa University for three years during the summer for teaching. She taught in rural Waterville for two years before teaching grade school in New Albin until she was married.

September 15, 1951, she married Donald Whalen at St. Pius Cherry Mound Catholic Church in rural Harpers Ferry. Bernadette was happy being a housewife, raising children and helping on the farm until the sudden death of her husband in 1966. She took over the running of the farm, took a night course in upholstery and turned the home into a shop for a few years, then took a night course in cake decoration. She was busy making wedding cakes for 30-plus years.

In the early 1970s, Bernadette became the Activity Director at the Allamakee County Home. She was acknowledged by the County Home and by the State inspectors for innovation and forward-thinking treatment of the residents. Her philosophy was simple; treat everyone as family and find the value within every individual and develop it to the maximum potential.

Bernadette was a member of St. Mary’s Lycurgus Catholic Church until it closed and then became a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Waukon. She did a lot of volunteering over the years and never wanted credit for anything she did. Bernadette enjoyed quilting, sewing, cooking and teaching her grandchildren how to read. Her coffee pot was always on and there were always homemade cookies to enjoy. She had an extraordinarily strong faith and never complained about anything.

Survivors include her children: Patrick (Karen) Whalen of Lansing, Thomas (Laurie) Whalen of Dawsonville, GA, Joseph (Tina) Whalen of Crawfordsville and Jerry (Kris) Whalen of Eugene, OR; 11 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. She also is survived by her sister-in-law, Lee Whalen of Dubuque.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Donald, who died in 1966; a daughter, Rita Whalen; a son, Dennis Whalen; four brothers, Albert, Aloysious, Michael and James Larkin; and four sisters, Mary Larkin, Dorothy Larkin, Katherine Dean and Jeannette Vetter.

Honorary casketbearers were the staff members at Good Samaritan Society. Casketbearers were Bernadette’s grandchildren.

Martin-Grau Funeral Home in Waukon assisted the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at

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