Age 88, of Somerville died of natural causes on October 26, 2020. He was born on January 21, 1932 to Edward and Emma Michels. Bernie grew up in Raynesford, MT with his parents and four brothers: Bud, Elvin, Vern, and Del. He graduated from Belt High School in 1949. Then Bernard traveled around Montana and worked at several jobs in agriculture and construction. He attended Montana State College, Bozeman and earned a degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in Soils in 1953. Later that year, he was drafted into the US Army. Bernie served for two years at California bases as a truck mechanic. After being discharged, he lived in Los Angeles and San Diego areas for twenty years. Bernard worked for electric companies and banks before he found his calling in social work. He also earned his Masters degree in Sociology at San Diego State College. In 1976, Bernard moved across the country to pursue his doctorate in Sociology from Heller School, Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Once a professor, he taught classes at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Bernie enjoyed one of his passions of growing plants and entering them into competitions. He also involved himself in exercise regimens to improve his health.
Bernard is survived by his life partner Herb Breneman, Pasadena, CA; brother Vern Michels, NYC, NY; his sister-in-law Marilyn Michels, Great Falls ,MT; nephews: Larry Renney, Helena ,MT; Bill Renney, Billings, MT; Ed Michels, Great Falls, MT; Steve Michels, Raynesford ,MT; and Tim Michels, Spokane, WA; nieces: Melanie Hallett, Clancy ,MT; Laurie Deckert, Longmont, CO; and Lisa Norfolk, Spokane, WA.
Cremation has taken place and his family will hold a celebration of life in Summer of 2021.
Bernard took pride in his life achievements. He was born during the Great Depression to a working-class family in rural Montana. His education started in a one room country school and he kept bettering himself until he became a Professor of Sociology. Bernie taught about social inequality at distinguished institutions. He made it his mission to speak out about the social injustices of modern society. He was the family historian who wrote thirty plus chapters on various relatives and collected decades of family photos. He was a kind and gentle soul who will be greatly missed. Bernard had strong convictions and was outspoken as a gay activist. In 1973, he worked on the planning board for the Gay Center of Social Services in San Diego. After he moved to Massachusetts, he joined the organizations: Boston Area for Naturist Guys and the Boston Prime Timers. He also participated annually in the Boston Gay Walk.
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