On Friday, May 22, 2020, Andrew Gerard Berendt (65), a faithful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and devoted husband, father, grandfather, son and brother peacefully passed away from pancreatic cancer and went onto his heavenly reward surrounded by his loving wife, children and granddaughter.
Andy was born on May 10, 1955, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Gordon and Margaret (Krucky) Berendt. His earliest years were filled with two lifelong loves – hunting and fishing. He attended and graduated from Hamilton High School in 1973 and went on to be a firefighter for the city of Milwaukee Fire Department from 1977 to 1985. During his years as a firefighter, Andy became an EMT and served Milwaukee in both capacities. First, he worked in the engine company and then moved to the ladder company. As a firefighter/EMT, Andy often drove firetrucks, as well as ambulances. While on the fire department, he served as a fire house cook for 4 years.
On October 2, 1976, he married Kathleen Mary Curran. Together they welcomed son Adam in 1977 and daughter Heather in 1979.
Andy and Kathy were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins on August 19, 1977, just 2 days before the birth of their son Adam. This began a life-long commitment to serving the Lord and teaching the gospel to the lost.
After several more years on the fire department, Andy and Kathy decided to take their children and leave their home and family (Luke 18:29-30) and move to the mountains of Colorado to begin a new congregation, the Peak View church of Christ, in Woodland Park while also running a barbeque restaurant named Choo-Choo Barbeque. Over the next 35 years, Andy continued to preach and teach the lost in various places including Bedford, Ohio; Fultondale, Alabama; Grand Junction, Colorado; Waycross, Georgia; Butler, Alabama and currently for the brethren in Buckhorn, Mississippi. While in Waycross, Georgia, Andy had the privilege of serving the congregation as an elder. Andy and Kathy were a faithful team working together for the Lord and where one went, the other was also.
Before his days as a Christian and preacher, Andy was involved and competed in body building and weightlifting competitions. He won many awards and trophies in both areas and in his last meet before he retired, he was awarded the 225 lb. state championship of Wisconsin for powerlifting and was the best lifter of the entire competition in all weight classes. His photograph was also featured in a published children’s book titled Careers in the Fire Department in the section on being physically fit as a fireman. It was during his days as a weight lift that he got the nickname “Big A”. That name has stuck with him throughout his life and he affectionately started calling Kathy his “Little K”. Although Andy loved weightlifting and was at the peak of his career, he made the difficult decision to retire and give that up because he was convicted that he could no longer compete in good conscience due to the immodesty of the required outfits.
In addition to weightlifting, Andy was a skilled craftsman in areas including engraving, custom knife making and working with leather and wood. He started his own custom knife making business called Big A’s Custom Knives which he later changed to Never A Dull Moment. He was accepted into the Knife Maker Guild in 1979 and was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for making one of the largest bowie knives ever made. Through many years of knife making, he designed and created knives with incredibly unique, ornate features. Some of his favorite knives he has made were for his wife on their wedding day and his children on their wedding days.
Andy was a devoted husband to Kathy for over 43 years. From the very beginning, Andy and Kathy loved the outdoors and spent some of their first dates target shooting with guns and bows. Together they shared a love for all forms of art. They shared a love for Colorado and have countless memories of going cactus hunting, rock collecting, hiking the back of Pikes Peak and gun shooting. Like many couples who have been married for over 43 years, their vows of for “better or worse, richer or poorer and sickness and health” were tested and tried repeatedly through the years and yet they were together through it all. Whenever they would say their goodbyes or goodnights, Kathy would always say, “I love you, forever and ever.” Andy would always reply, “Forever and ever”. Their love for each other never dwindled. Even in the face of sickness and death, Andy’s last words were of his undying love for his “Little K” when she said, “I love you, forever and ever.” One final time, Andy replied with his last words, “Forever and ever.”
Andy was an amazing father. The best term to describe his parenting was selfless. He constantly gave of himself for his family. Between his time, energy and finances, he would do anything for them. Even as adults, Adam and Heather always knew that Andy was there with love, support and a listening ear for them whenever they needed it. He welcomed Holley and Frederic into his family and always referred to them as his children.
With Adam, he enjoyed teaching him to lead songs for worship, teaching him how to lead prayer, how to hunt and fish, make models, fix cars and play sports. He helped him get through Cub Scouts, and also helped him win every model design competition he ever entered.
With Heather, he enjoyed drawing and helping her perfect many school projects. He played games with her and clipped coupons and helped her shop as she grew up. He had great conversations with her and loved listening to her talk about her life. As Heather grew up, he helped her fix and build just about everything – especially the props for her children’s birthday parties.
Andy fulfilled two lifelong dreams through his children. He had the joy of baptizing both of his children into Christ. He also had the honor of performing both of their wedding ceremonies.
Between weightlifting, knife-making and evangelism, Andy lead a full life. Yet nothing gave him as much joy as his grandchildren. He recently wrote a letter, and this is what he had to say about his grandchildren.
“All 4 of our “children” are faithful, involved and active members of the church of our Lord, and they are raising all 10 of our beloved grandchildren, “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The 4 oldest of our grandchildren have all “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in the past 2 years. All of this is an enormous source of joy and comfort to all of us.”
Over the years, Andy attended countless ball games, recitals and many birthday parties for his 10 grandchildren. Andy was a devoted grandfather that taught his grandchildren how to safely shoot guns, hunt, fish, enjoy the outdoors, draw, make knives, fly kites, ride bikes, attend tea parties, create things out of scraps, play countless games and host nightly bonfires when we were all together. He also taught them how to be humble, how to persevere through trials, how to deny yourself, how to serve everyone and how to love people even when they are unlovable. But most of all, he taught them to love God’s word and put it deep into their hearts. They truly are his legacy.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 43 years Kathleen Mary (Curran) of Randolph, Mississippi, and son Adam (Holley) Berendt of Gardendale, Alabama, and their children Carter, Peyton, Grayson and Chloe Berendt and daughter Heather (Frederic) Gray of Temple Terrace, Florida, and their children Noelani, Maleia, Malachi, Amairah, Gideon and Asher Gray.
He also leaves behind his father Gordon Berendt of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and brothers Joseph (Dawn) and nephews Rex and Parker, Anthony (Vicky) and Gerard (Mary) all of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and sisters Susan Dietrich of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mary Berendt of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nancy (Dennis) Meske of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and Jane (Mike) Meske of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and many uncles, aunts and cousins. He also leaves behind his in laws Earl and Leona Curran, Sr. of Muskego, Wisconsin, and sister and brother in law Christine (Bill) Duelge of Muskego, Wisconsin, and Earl (Laura) Curran, Jr. of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and many nephews and nieces.
He is preceded in death by his mother Margaret (Krucky) Berendt (1997) and grandchild Noah Christian Gray (2013).
The celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, June 27th at the Gardendale Civic Center in Gardendale, Alabama. There will be a visitation from 1:00-3:00 pm followed by the service at 3:00 pm. Gardendale Civic Center, 857 Main St, Gardendale, AL 35071.
The funeral will be live-streamed for those that cannot attend, and still wish to view it. Adam Berendt and Frederic Gray will have the link posted on their facebook pages on the date of the funeral.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in Andrew Berendt’s name to Sacred Selections adoption website. Andy lived a life dedicated to bringing the gospel to all and we feel like it’s fitting in death for him to be able to contribute to the adoption of a children into a faithful, loving, Christian home. Donations made in Andy’s name will benefit the JT & Leanne Fannin family’s adoption.