John E. Bernthal


John E. Bernthal died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Friday, July 23, 2021. 

A viewing will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 28 at Butherus-Maser & Love Funeral Home, 4040 A Street in Lincoln. Services will be held Thursday, July 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Sheridan Lutheran Church, 6955 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln. 

Memorials may be sent to the John and Marilyn Bernthal Speech Language Pathology Fellowship Fund, Fund #01123330, University of NE Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall Suite 300, Lincoln Neb. 68508

Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home will be handling the arrangements. Online Condolences can be left at

John E. Bernthal  was born in 1940 in Sheridan, Wyoming. The son of a Lutheran minister, he spent most of his youth in Wayne. As a boy, Bernthal delivered the Omaha World-Herald and earned Boy Scout merit badges. At Wayne’s Hahn High School, Bernthal played running back, joined the marching band during halftime, and then returned to running back during the second half. He went to college at Wayne State, where he became student body president, lettered in football and tennis, and participated in the orchestra. John was later inducted into the Wayne State Hall of Fame. 

He earned his Master’s degree from the University of Kansas. In Lawrence, John snagged his biggest lifetime honor by meeting Marilyn Simpson, who became his wife of 55 years.

John earned a PhD (University of Wisconsin) and crafted a distinguished academic career. His textbook, co-authored with long-time friend Nick Bankson, became a best seller in the field of speech and audiology. For 30 years, Bernthal served as Chair of the Barkley Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was elected President of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) in 2001. 

John crafted a rich personal life. Along with his spouse, Marilyn, he visited every continent except Antarctica. He ate an exceptional amount of ice cream. He was a long time member, and one-time President, of a Lincoln chapter of the Sertoma Club, a faithful volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and mentored youth through Lincoln’s TeamMates program. He also enjoyed cards, although he had sub .500 lifetime Euchre record. An avid life-long tennis player and sports fan, He loved watching his children and granddaughters play tennis, basketball and volleyball. He became an ardent Creighton volleyball supporter, where his daughter, Kirsten, serves as Head Coach. He was a prodigious newspaper reader. He would have enjoyed this obit. 

He was preceded in death by Rev. Erwin John Bernthal and Erna Bernthal. He is survived by: wife Marilyn (Simpson) Bernthal; a son, Brad (Ande), granddaughters Alexis and Quinn; a daughter, Kirsten Bernthal Booth (Erik) granddaughters Reese, Hayden, and Berkeley; brothers Frederick Bernthal (Heather Lancaster) and Stuart Bernthal (Katherine); sisters Rebecca Bernthal and Christine Bernthal.