UNMC administrator Bonnie Berndt dies at age 79

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | April 22, 2013

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Bonnie Berndt, longtime UNMC employee and the wife of the late William Berndt, M.D., former chancellor of UNMC, died April 17 at the age of 79.

Berndt started at UNMC in 1982 in orthopaedic surgery as an administrative assistant and retired in 2004 as the department's administrator.

"Bonnie was the administrator and residency coordinator throughout my residency," said Matt Mormino, M.D., residency director for orthopaedic surgery. "She was here for the first years of my practice, as well."

In addition to an encyclopedic knowledge of institutional history, Dr. Mormino said, Berndt "really knew how to get things done.

"Anytime you had a question on just about anything, she was capable of sending you in the right direction - if she wasn't able to take care of it herself."

That kind of support, he said, is greatly beneficial to a young resident or new faculty member.

"She sort of shepherded many years of orthopaedic residents through their entry into our hospital system and kept us on the right track in our training," he said. "She did the same thing for those starting as new faculty."

Paul Esposito, M.D., a professor of orthopaedic surgery, remembered Berndt as "always delightful, professional and a real lady - with a remarkable sense of humor."

Esposito said Berndt knew all the ins and out of UNMC.

"There wasn't anything we could take to Bonnie that she didn't have an answer for," he said. "She wore many hats, and wore them all well."

Berndt's husband worked at UNMC from 1982 to 2002, serving as chancellor from 1996 to 1998. He was the seventh full-time chancellor in UNMC history and was one of the key leaders involved in the 1997 merger of University Hospital and Clarkson Hospital to create The Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Berndt died in 2006 at the age of 73.

Berndt was survived by five children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A visitation and vigil service was held Sunday, April 21, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Neb.

Please share your memories of Bonnie Berndt below.

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Tom O'Connor
April 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

The Berndts were an awesome couple. They contributed so much to UNMC. My condolences to the entire family on the loss of this great lady.

Gerianne Miller
April 22, 2013 at 9:47 AM

I had the privilege to work with Bonnie for a couple of years before she retired. She was a great administrator but more so her commitment and her husband Bill’s commitment to UNMC was awe inspiring as was their commitment to family. I extend my deepest sympathy to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Rest in peace Bonnie.

Peter Coccia
April 22, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Bonnie was incredibly helpful to many of us not in Orthopedics, kind and considerate, a great first lady for Bill as Chancellor, and, I know, a wonderful resource for Jim Neff when he chaired the Orthopedics department.

Lisa Runco
April 22, 2013 at 7:20 AM

Bonnie was the administrator of Orthopaedics when I first started at UNMC years ago. She was a role model for the rest of the department administrative group. She was a rock solid person and will be remembered for her family's many contributions to the success of the medical center campus.