Bernie Anthony Hillermann was born January 9, 1932 in Washington, Missouri, son of the late Bernie E. Hillermann and wife, Margaret Schroeder Hillermann. He passed away Friday, July 8, 2016 in Washington at the age of 84 years.
Bernie attended St. Francis Borgia Grade School and High School. On March 13, 1950, Bernie entered the United States Navy during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged December 17, 1953 as a Boilerman Second Class. Bernie learned about gardening from his father, Bernie E. Hillermann, as he grew. Upon returning from the Navy, Bernie joined his brother, Don at Hillermann as a partner with Hillermann Nursery and Landscape in Washington, MO. On January 8, 1955, Bernie was united in marriage to Miss Dorothy Klingsick at St. Francis Borgia Church.
Bernie became very active in the Washington community, including serving as a board member of St. Francis Hospital when it was first built in 1976, and the later on the St. John’s Mercy Hospital advisory board, where he was named a vice chairman and chairman of committees. He was a leader in fundraisers and drives for the construction of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and a member of the Endowment Committee. He served on numerous other committees, including the Chamber of Commerce board, where he was vice president for one term; a co-chair of the board for the Washington School District tax increase campaign; and a former member of the Core Restructuring Committee. He was a 13-year board member of the Washington Town and Country Fair and was chairman for the 1968 event. Bernie was very active with the Washington Highway Transportation Committee; where he was instrumental in the naming of the expanded Highway 100 to “Veterans Memorial Highway”, Board of Directors for Mercantile Bank of Franklin County, member of Washington Elks, Washington American Legion, Washington V.F. W., Knights of Columbus (4th Degree Knight), member of St. Francis Borgia Church, and a very proud past chairman and 20 year member of the Washington Public Works committee and helped establish the new wastewater treatment plant. Bernie also worked on fountain projects at Lions Lake and was a leader in building the Korean War Memorial in Krog Park. He also helped develop a horticulture department at East Central College and served on its advisory committee, including 15 years as chair. He was a board member and president of the Society of Joseph, part of St. Joseph’s Hill Infirmary, and Price Memorial, president of the Washington Senior Housing Board and a member of the cemetery committee of St. Francis Borgia Parish. Recently, he helped start the Washington Korean Veterans Organization and spearheaded the Jr. ROTC uniform drive.
Bernie served as the City of Washington’s mayor from 1994-98. As mayor, he formed the city’s transportation committee, which still exists today. During Hillermann’s term as mayor, the city also refurbished city hall. The old train depot on Front Street was restored while Hillermann was mayor. He also started the city’s curbside recycling program. Hillermann, along with Jim Briggs, current city administrator, and Dan Boyce, former city engineer, also were able to negotiate a permit with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for the city landfill. Also, as mayor, Hillermann signed the agreement with Marbach am Neckar in Germany to become sister cities. He was one of the first delegates to visit the city. Because of his longtime service to the community, Hillermann was awarded the Washingtonian Award in 1999 by The Missourian.
In the Landscape and Nursery/Garden Center industry, he was active in many organizations as well. He was recognized for and served on the board of directors of the Missouri Landscape and Nursery Association for a total of eight years, including one year as president. He served another eight years with the Midwestern Nurserymen’s Association – as president of the board for one year. He also served as President of the Western Nursery and Landscape Organization and had been State Governor of American Nursery & Landscape Association. After serving on the regional board of Garden Centers of America, Hillermann was invited to join the national board based in Washington, D.C., and was president of that organization for one year. As president of the Garden Centers of America, he visited Holland, Germany, England and South Africa.
Bernie was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Dorothy; grandson, Jason Holthaus, three siblings, Joan Halmich and her husband, Willard, Donald Hillermann, and Theola Holdmeyer; and brother-in-law, Leo Kriete.
He is survived by four daughters, Sandra McDonald and husband, Tim of Washington, Sherry Holthaus and husband, Don of Washington, Christine Beste and husband, Ron of Washington, and Karen Maniaci and husband, Joe of Washington; two sons, B.J. Hillermann of Eureka and Scott Hillermann and wife, Gail of Washington; 14 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, 2 foster great grandchildren, two sisters, Bernadette Kriete of Washington and Doris Boland and husband, Richard of Washington; sister-in-law, Marie Hillermann of Washington, brother-in-law, Robert Holdmeyer of Washington; many other relatives, and friends.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated on Monday, July 11, 2016 at 10 AM at St. Francis Borgia Church in Washington with Rev. Joe Wormek officiating. Burial is in the St. Francis Borgia Cemetery. Memorials preferred to Washington Parks Department for Trees, Washington Chapter of Korean Veterans, Mercy Hospital Foundation, American Diabetes Association, or St. Francis Borgia Parish. The Hillermann family was served by the Oltmann Funeral Home in Washington, MO.