Bernard Van Funk Jr. BARRE — On Monday, May 11, 2020, Bernard Van Funk Jr., passed away at the age of 91 at the New England Homes for the Deaf. Van was born on Nov. 4, 1928, in Barre, Vermont, to Bernard Van Funk Sr., and Evelyn Shields. He was lovingly cared for by his stepmother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross. He attended Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro and graduated from Spaulding High School in Barre in 1950. The Austine School had significant importance in Van’s life. As a deaf child born to a hearing family, his early communication consisted of simple gestures. At Austine, his life blossomed. He quickly became fluent in sign language and made lifelong friends. Van played on the basketball team, took up ski jumping and worked on the school farm. With his classmates, Van went on camping trips, cut ice from the school’s pond, and helped farmers with maple sugaring. “It was a really beautiful place,” he always said. These experiences provided the foundation and skills for Van to become a self-reliant and confident deaf adult. Set up on a blind date, Van met and fell in love with Barbara Black. On April 23, 1960, they married in Woodstock, Vermont. Later that year, he built his house on Trow Hill in Barre Town where he and Barbara lived their lives together raising their son, John, and daughter, Jane. For 41 years, he worked in the granite industry for Marr and Gordon Inc. and later, Rock of Ages. He was a master granite polisher and fabricator of precision surface plates. Van had a passion for the outdoors. He loved to ski, hike, camp with his family, play horseshoes and participated in the Rock of Ages bowling league. He and Barbara loved to travel and went on many memorable journeys throughout the world. Van was a tinkerer. From lawn mowers to home renovations, he could build and repair anything. His lawn was the envy of the neighborhood. He was a skilled, talented and competent man who took pride in creating a comfortable home for his family. Van was known for his genuine warmth, adventurous spirit and sincere kindness. Van was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara. His son, John Funk, wife Theo Grayson and their children, Alden and Sarala, and his daughter, Jane Funk and husband Stuart Finkelstein, hold fond memories of their father and grandfather. Van leaves behind his dear friend and companion, Ethelyn Lamorey. Together, they cared for each other while enjoying the simple pleasures of playing cards, having a glass of wine, and sharing the company of longtime friends. We all will carry Van’s memory in our hearts. A special thank you to the health care workers at New England Homes for the Deaf, whose care, compassion and kindness during these very challenging times brought peace and comfort to Van and his family. The family will have a private burial in Wilson Cemetery in Barre Town at a future date. The Hooker Whitcomb Funeral Home, 7 Academy St., Barre, is assisting the Funk family with the arrangements. For a memorial guestbook, visit www.hookerwhitcomb.com.

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Sending my condolences to John and Jane and their families. I grew up with Van and truly admired him. He was my gentle giant always having a beautiful smile. Even though we didn’t always share words he radiated tenderness and always kindness. He will remain in my heart forever.


Dear Ethel and Funk family. I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Van. I last saw Van when he accompanied Ethel to my mother (Tiny Pirie's) funeral in 2015 and he looked just as handsome and distinguished as I remembered him as a child when he would visit our life-long neighbors the Lamorey's on Hill Street. I also received a beautiful picture of him and Ethel this past Christmas. I was so happy they had such a wonderful, happy relationship. I send heart felt condolences to Ethel and the entire Funk family in the passing of this truly exceptional man. Jo Ellen Pirie, Hampton Beach, NH

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