Jean Priefert

Jean (Bernasek) Priefert was born March 1, 1935 in Geneva, NE to James and Alba (Fujan) Bernasek. She passed away on June 21, 2020 at her home near Fairmont, Nebraska at the age of 85 years, 3 months, and 20 days.

She graduated from Geneva High School. On September 5, 1954 she married Neil Priefert at the United Brethren Church in Geneva. Neil and Jean were married for 63 years. Four daughters filled their home with activity; Mary, Carol, Linda and Susan.

Jean was a 50-year member of the Fairmont Federated Women’s Club. She enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the community mindedness of this group of women. Jean was also an active member of WIFE, Women Involved in Farm Economics. Her task for the weekend of her death was getting a newsletter article written for them. Jean was a founding member of the Nebraska Poll-ettes and served on the National Poll-ette Cookbook Committee typing sections of the cookbook with recipes submitted from around the nation on a Royal manual typewriter at the kitchen table. In 2017 she was honored as the National Hereford Woman of the Year at the American Royal in Kansas City, MO.

Jean enjoyed the outdoors and her animals. Every morning and every evening you could find her “doing chores,” feeding cats, dogs, letting the chickens out and feeding grain to the cows. While spending years in the registered cattle business, it wasn’t unusual to find a calf being warmed in the bathtub, or a chicken being nurtured back to health after falling in the oil pit. While many used the Sunbeam electric skillet to fry chicken on the kitchen counter, Jean hatched baby chicks in hers. The story had been told of Jean, classmates Elaine and Helen Carol, being caught with a kitten hidden in a box in their Home Ec class by Miss Betty Christiancy. Betty Christiancy went on to be Betty Betka, who was Jean’s daughters 4-H leader.

The registered cattle herd was an integral part of Jean’s life on the farm. Hours were spent at the kitchen table filling out registration forms, recording birth weights, and weaning weights. The neighborhood party line let callers know when Jean wasn’t home and let Jean know someone was looking for a bull. Life-long friendships developed as the family spent time each summer attending cattle tours with the Riffel family, county and state fairs, Junior Nationals and AK-SAR-BEN, auctions in the winter, and progress shows in the spring. Jean and Neil enjoyed traveling the country to the Standard of Perfection Shows in Kansas City, Denver, Fort Worth and Portland. Neil and Jean were avid supporters of young people in the beef industry, hence the Neil Priefert Scholarship for a member of the Nebraska Junior Hereford Association. In recent years, Jean and Neil were staples at the Sutton sale barn for lunch on Fridays. They recorded the lot number, weight and price of every animal that went thru the ring.

Jean farmed right along side her husband. It wasn’t unusual to see her on the tractor, headed to the field. She also made many parts runs for Neil. It is quite possible some of those parts were to repair equipment she’d been using. Tractors didn’t always have cabs then, but Jean was happy if the tractor had a radio so she could listen to polkas, KRVN and baseball games on KFAB.

Jean coached countless innings of girls’ softball in Fairmont. Playing catch in the yard with her daughters was a normal part of summers. She played many seasons on the Fairmont Lion’s Club women’s team. She could be counted on to try a bunt and steal a base. The women’s team’s season culminated at the Strang Tournament where the team won the coveted trophy several successive seasons. Her pregnancy with youngest daughter Susan was kept a secret from everyone so Grandma Bernasek wouldn’t be upset to see Jean continuing to catch behind home plate with Bonnie Nelson on the mound.

Jean spent her working career as a Cottage Parent at YRTC in Geneva. Following her retirement from YRTC, she drove for Eichman’s transport company in York. She transported Epworth Village residents and clients to school and varioius appointments. Any unwholesome conversations or arguments between students brought them an exposure to Jean’s Czech heritage as she turned up her polka music on the radio.

Jean was a pioneer in her own right. She was concerned about ground water, soil conditions, and proper care of animals. She was an avid gardener, promoting nutrition to her family before it was a public health initiative. What would be called family bonding time today, took place on the back step as Jean and the girls snapped 5-gallon buckets of green beans while swatting mosquitos. Jean was a tireless supporter of the beef industry and providing home-raised beef for her family. She spent many years supporting youth, sitting on the bleachers watching ballgames and cattle shows after her own family was raised. She spoke her mind and was proud of her heritage. She cared deeply about sports opportunities and education for girls. She truly was ahead of her time.

Jean was proceeded in death by her husband Neil, her parents, James and Alba Bernasek and in-laws Elmer and Margaret Priefert.

Those who remain are: Daughters: Mary (Dana) Scott of York, NE; Carol (David Wentworth) Priefert of Centennial, WY; Linda (Kirby) Zuerlein of Fairmont, NE; Susan (Brandon) Priefert Voss of Sisters, OR. Grandchildren: Zac (Amanda) Scott of York, NE; Nick (Kelsey) Scott of Norfolk, NE; Ryan (Sara Stearns) Scott of York, NE; Adam (Anna) Scott of Lincoln, Curtis (Sydney) Scott of Gretna, NE; Lindsey Carroll of Lincoln; Danielle (Dakota) Cooper of York, NE; and Leslie Carroll of Fairmont, NE. Great-grandchildren: Jane Scott, Ethan Stearns, Hudson and Wyatt Scott, and Dominic, Derek & Dusty Cooper.

A Funeral Service for Jean was held on Friday, June 26, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at the Fairmont Community Church. Pastor SeungLi You officiated the service. Gwenda Mau accompanied the congregation in the singing of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “For The Beauty Of The Earth.” She also played the instrumental recessional, “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie.”

Pallbearers for the service included Zac Scott, Nick Scott, Ryan Scott, Curtis Scott, Adam Scott, and Dakota Cooper.

It was Jean’s wish to be cremated following the Funeral Service. A private committal of ashes will take place in the Fairmont Public Cemetery at a later date.

Farmer & Son Funeral Home was in care of the arrangements and online condolences can be left at www.farmerandsonfuneralhome.com

Memorials are suggested to the Neil Priefert Scholarship Fund or the Fairmont Community Church.

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