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Winfred Bernard "Bernie" Kluesner, Jr.
September 13, 1942 ~ November 9, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old
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Winfred Bernard 'Bernie' Kluesner, Jr., - epic storyteller, born businessman, 'collector' of everything, harmless flirt, a man with no concept of time, proud Catholic who held his faith close and patriarch of an extended family - died on November 9, 2023. He was 81. His decline started on September 4th with a fall, heart attack, several mini-strokes and eventually, sepsis.
Other than his three cherished children, Bernie's life work was his vocation as a pharmacist. He graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy in 1966 and joined the Appalachian Regional Hospital staff in Harlan, Ky. He then took over as chief of pharmacy at ARH in Whitesburg, Ky. In 1967, he moved to Beckley, W, Va., when he was named director of the ARH pharmacy, managing a department of 16. Four years later, led by his strong independent streak and innate business acumen, he created his own company and purchased Professional Pharmacy. At nearly the same time and before his 30th birthday, he was chosen as president of the West Virginia Society of Hospital Pharmacists.
He grew his business in 1974 when he and his brother, fellow pharmacist Chuck Kluesner, purchased the White Cross Pharmacy in downtown Beckley. In 1986, Bernie built another store, Carriage Drive Pharmacy. Over a span of more than five decades, he served thousands of patients in Beckley and across southern West Virginia.
Bernie often spoke highly of his time at UK. Besides educating him, the university turned him into a lifelong Wildcat fan - including becoming a football season ticketholder. Living nearly 60 years in West Virginia, he also rooted for the Mountaineers. He believed fiercely in his Catholic faith and demonstrated that commitment by supporting St. Francis de Sales church and school in Beckley. But his engagement wasn't just financial. Bernie headed up the Knights of Columbus at the parish for two terms. Coincidentally, St. Francis was the same name as his Louisville high school where he was a member of the inaugural graduation class.
He enjoyed bowling and he gambled for fun. Whether it was regular hands of Texas Hold'em with his sons and buddies, taking his mother on her only trip to Las Vegas, betting on his favorite teams or playing other games of chance, he experienced some extraordinary wins.
But he also knew about crushing heartbreak. In 1979, his then 11-year-old daughter, Angie, suffered a catastrophic medical emergency, leaving her permanently disabled. As an adult, she settled in Lexington, Ky., and Bernie would drive in regularly to see her. He treasured every one of those visits.
Compassionate to his core, he had little patience for laziness or self-pity. Those who spent any time with him certainly heard favorite phrases such as, "the fact of the matter is" and "when all is said and done." He was opinionated and stubborn and generous and social and supportive and funny and kind and always positive about life's possibilities. And if he was in your corner, he would never - ever - give up on you.
Born on September 13, 1942 in Louisville, Ky., Bernie was the oldest child of the late Winfred Bernard Kluesner, Sr. and Mary Loretto Ruley. He was preceded in death by his sister Mary McCammon and several close friends including most recently, Father Don Meuret in 2022.
He is survived by his wife, Linda (née Weidensall) Bartusiak Kluesner, son Kevin Bernard (Kathy), daughter Angela Marie and son Mathew Warren, as well as his brother Charles "Chuck" Kluesner (Maggie), and sisters Donna Wheeler and Beverly Bell (Larry).
In addition to his children and siblings, he leaves behind six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, 10 nieces and nephews, and numerous cousins. He will also be missed by the mother of his children, Carol Oerther, and an extensive circle of friends.
A visitation for Bernie will be held on Friday, November 24th 5-7 pm at Melton Mortuary. On Saturday, November 25th there will be a short visitation from 10-11 am at St. Francis de Sales Church followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 am. The Rite of Committal with burial will follow in St. Sebastian's Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in Bernie's name to the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish, 614 S. Oakwood Ave., Beckley WV 25801.