Bernard Leo Coss, 87, of Miller, died at Sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 21, 2016 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller.
Funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Miller with Father Chester Murtha, celebrant. Burial will follow at St. Ann’s Cemetery, Miller with military honors. Visitation will be 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 22, 2016 followed by a 7:00 p.m. prayer service and rosary, all at the church.
Bernard Leo Coss, was born in Hand County, SD on December 15, 1928 to William J. and Margaret (Manning) Coss. He spent his younger years in the Miller area and then went to Notre Dame High School in Mitchell, SD during his high school years. After high school he returned to the Miller area to help support his mother and family.
Bernie was driven in life by his deep seated belief that service to others outweighed all. He was an active member in the St Ann Catholic Church from the time he was a small boy as an altar server, to Miller’s first lector, Eucharistic Minister, CCD Educator, and Knights of Columbus member.
He found honor in serving his country. He enlisted in the United States Army on January 17, 1951 and was stationed in Korea where he was a platoon leader and operated a recoilless rifle. On April 30, 1953 he was discharged after being wounded in the ankle and leg. Bernie received The Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal, W/1 Campaign Star, and the Combat Infantry Badge for his service. He embraced his injury and never allowed it to slow him down with his work or family.
Many occupations were held throughout his life. He worked at the Miller Sale barn, as a herdsman moving horses to rodeos, a hardware store clerk, and owned a service station where his motto was, “If you fill your tank, I will vacuum your car for free,” and drove truck. He served as The Hand County Treasurer and also Registrar. He spent some time as the Chairman of the Hand County Democratic Party. He took on a love of politics as a civic responsibility that would follow him throughout the rest of his life. In 1970 he established the Bernard Coss Agency where he sold insurance, real estate, and offered his auctioneering services. In 1996 he sold his business to his son Daniel and shifted his attention to ranching. If you asked him which job was his most treasured, he would tell you he dearly loved the time spent working at Cannon River Ranches with his nephew (little brother), Larry Coss.
He enjoyed his service and his work but there is nothing he loved more than his wife and family. On September 12, 1953 Bernie took the hand of Donna Mae Fanning at the Saint Ann Catholic Church in Miller, SD. Together they had eight children and a life full of love and memories. Amongst these are countless camping trips and the Coss Family Reunions in Watertown where dad enjoyed the stars in the sky, the smell of the campfire, and the tune of “You Are My Sunshine” on the harmonica. Bernie dearly loved spending time with his grandchildren; enjoyed teaching them checkers, fox and sparrows, Parcheesi, red rover and steal sticks. He also enjoyed challenging the kids to an arm wrestling match or letting them ride on his back like a cowboy. Even though his father died when he was young, he became the greatest example for what a father should be. Together Bernie and Donna also shared the joy of travels outside of South Dakota, throughout the United States (including their Alaskan cruise) Mexico, Canada, and Ireland. Heritage was always important to Bernie and he was proud of his Irish Ancestry as his grandparents emigrated from Ireland.
God, family, love, service, and honor are just a few words we use to describe our father. The Miller community was near and dear to his heart. What he has done for so many he knew, and for so many he didn’t, can’t be compiled into a few sentences – but they will always be remembered in our hearts.
He is survived by his children: Timothy (Kathy) Coss, Tamara Coss, Bernadette Coss, Paul Coss, Daniel (Sheila) Coss, Lance Coss, Kimberly (Donald) McDaniel, and Kevin (DeeAnn) Coss; 23 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his wife, Donna Mae Coss (Fanning); his parents, Margaret and William; brothers: Thomas, John, James, and infant William; sisters: Mildred Coss, Lucille Beaner, Margaret Dixon, Sister Rita Coss, and infant Catherine Coss.
Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Bernie’s arrangements.