Bernice E. Thole

Bernice E. Thole, 95, of Dyersville, Iowa died Friday, March 29, 2024, at her home surrounded by family.

Visitation will be held 2 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, at Kramer Funeral Home in Dyersville.  Visitation will continue from 9 – 10:30 a.m., at Kramer Funeral Home prior to funeral services.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at St. Francis Xavier Basilica, Dyersville, Iowa with burial in the church cemetery. Rev. Chris Podhajsky will officiate with Rev. Douglas Loecke concelebrating.

Bernice was born April 13, 1928, in Holy Cross, Iowa the daughter of Anthony and Ottillia (Loecke) Hellmann.  She married Charles “Chuck” Thole on September 7, 1948 in Holy Cross, Iowa. They owned and operated their farm near Petersburg for 42 years and were members of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. They were members of the Delaware County Pork Producers and were 4H Leaders. Bernice baked and decorated wedding cakes for 35 years. She always was proud that she made all her cakes from scratch, not using mixes. She designed and made a special birthday cake for every grandchild growing up until the age of 12. She taught cake decorating classes for a few years at Western Dubuque, sharing her talent.

After Bernice and Chuck retired, they moved to Dyersville. She retired from cake decorating, selling her mixers, ovens, and equipment to a local baker. Charles and Bernice became involved with volunteering their time with the Food Pantry, serving for over 20 years. In 1995, they were nominated and honored with an award of appreciation by Governor Branstad at the Iowa Capitol. They were members of St. Francis Xavier Basilica church where they donated time to help wherever it was needed. Charles preceded her in death on December 23, 1996.

Bernice continued her volunteering at the Food Pantry as well as working in church each week, cleaning, setting up for mass, laundry, sewing needs, and as she would say, “Whatever needed to be done.”

She worked with the Layette group making and packing layettes for newborns and later quilted with the ladies. She designed and pieced over 50 military quilts while working at the Layette. She was a member of the Mercy Auxiliary for many years as well. Sewing, quilting, and baking were her favorite hobbies. She made a special quilt for all of her children and grandchildren as a wedding heirloom gift to treasure, and a baby quilt for all of her great-grandchildren when they were born.

In 2008, the Dyersville Chamber honored her with the Woman of the Year award for her volunteer work in the community. Her number one priority was her Faith and Family. Her devotion to her husband and family was evident in all she did. She will be greatly missed.

Survivors include her 5 children: Madonna (Charles) Wilhelm, Nancy (Gary) Mensen, Ronald (Susan) Thole all of Dyersville, Robert (DeAnn) Thole of Carlile, Wyoming, Gary (Christine) Thole of Grove, Oklahoma; 17 grandchildren; 31great-grandchildren; siblings:  Charles (Mary) Hellmann of Holy Cross, Cletus (Correne) Hellmann of Ryan, Eileen (Ed) Prier of Dyersville; a sister-in-law, Eileen Hellmann of Ryan.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Charles in 1996, son, Daniel (in infancy); granddaughter, Tiffany Jo Mensen; siblings: Germaine (John) Langel, Ambrose Hellmann, Delores (Dave) Putz; and several in-laws.

As a family, we are grateful for the loving care, friendship, and compassion she received from family and friends. Bernice’s family would also like to express their heartfelt appreciation for the staff of Hospice of Dubuque, especially Kris O., Nicole, Morgan, and Buffy. We thank you for the comfort you gave our mother and to us in her final days.

Online condolences may be left for the family at

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