Martha (Zumstein) Bernet
Martha (Zumstein) Bernet, age 94, died on Saturday, February 12, 2022. She was born April 16, 1927 in Leissigen, Switzerland. She graduated from business college in Interlaken and married Werner Bernet in 1946. She immigrated to the United States in 1947, where she became a leading member of the Swiss community in Monroe and Green County. She hosted a daily radio program of Swiss and German folk music on WEKZ radio for exactly 60 years, ending in 2015. She and Werner made cheese in rural Green County for several years, and then operated Bernet’s Cheese and Sausage Shop in Monroe for 28 years. After the death of her husband in 1984, she led yearly tours back to her beloved homeland for many years.
Martha played accordion and sang and yodeled throughout the Midwest and the country. In 1965, she and Rudy Burkhalter teamed up to first perform Monroe’s Cheese Days song, and they recorded it as a single in 1967. She also performed and recorded frequently with the Edelweiss Stars of New Glarus and Betty Vetterli of Monroe. Proud of her Swiss heritage, she was equally proud to become an American citizen in 1952 and to vote in every election since. She was a tireless promoter of her community, most recently appearing on billboards across southern Wisconsin as a “Swiss Chick.”
She is survived by her children: Hans (Bobbie) Bernet, Monroe, Kathleen (Daniel) Gilchrist, Grimsby, ON, Canada, Peter (Marianne) Bernet, Fairfax, VA, Rudy (Beth Ableman) Bernet, Monroe; four grandchildren: Sarah (Andrew) Toms, Grimsby, ON, Canada, Peter (Mechele Axford) Gilchrist, Sydney, Australia, Alex Bernet (Melanie Horton), Denver, CO, and Kate Bernet, Monroe; two great-grandchildren: Zack and Maddy Toms, Grimsby, ON, Canada; nieces, nephews and many, many friends in the U.S. and Switzerland.
A memorial service will be held in Monroe on Monday, March 14 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ, followed by a gathering at Turner Hall. Those who attend are asked to honor Martha’s memory by following Covid precautions and wearing a mask.
A live stream of Martha’s service can be found on the St. Johns YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel
Shriner Hager Gohlke Funeral Home is assisting the family. Condolences may be sent to the family at: Shriner111.com
Published by Madison.com on Mar. 6, 2022.