Bertha “Bert” Garner

Bertha “Bert” Garner

Bertha “Bert” Garner

Cedar Rapids

Bertha “Bert” Garner, 88, born Jan. 15, 1935, passed away Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Mercy Hospital, after a brief illness.

A Celebration of Life service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 8300 C Ave., Marion, IA 52302. The visitation will be held at 10 a.m., with the service beginning promptly at 1 p.m. at the church. The burial will follow at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.

Bertha was born to the late Charles Alexander and Rozaline Priscilla (Cole) Hildreth in Evansville, Ind. She was baptized and confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Evansville. Bertha was a proud graduate of Lincoln High School in Evansville, enjoying many class reunions. In 1958, Bertha moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her husband, Horace Garner. To this union, three children were born, Gerry, David and Tracy. In 1962, she was the first black woman to be employed by Square D Company. Later, she found out they canvassed her neighborhood to see what kind of person she was before hiring her. Obviously, they made an excellent choice as she was employed there for over 38 years. It was there she met many dear friends, Don Akers, Nita Deaver, Marlene Sirowy, Terri Williams and Zena Dotzler, to name a few.

Bertha accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, at a young age, and shared her faith with all she knew. She was committed to lifelong learning through church Bible studies and Naomi’s Circle at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Prior to being a member at St. Mark’s, Bertha was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, for nearly 50 years. During her time there, she was a choir member and a much sought after soloist. In 2004, Pastor Perry Fruhling befriended her family through a very difficult time and Bertha’s love for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church began. Bertha loved her church family, but she had a special love for her St. Mark’s choir family. She so appreciated the love they showed to her, especially in recent years, which allowed her to do what she truly loved, sing for the Lord. There are many others at St. Mark’s she fondly spoke of who loved and cared for her, bringing her coffee and everything she needed. She was also especially fond of Pastor Steve Qualben and missed him dearly after his time there.

During her time at St. Mark’s, Bertha was a member of the Prayer Team and volunteered her time for Mission of Hope. She was committed to serving and providing food for those in need. Previously, she was a member of the St. Mark’s Care Team, visiting and praying for the sick and shut ins. She continued visiting those she was assigned to, even after it became physically challenging for her to do so.

Bertha was also a lifetime member of the local branch of the NAACP, where she volunteered her time to support the community by advancing policies and practices that expanded human and civil rights.

Bertha loved music of all types. It was not uncommon to see her at church, band and other community concerts. She also loved traveling with family and friends, domestically and internationally, attending Christian conferences, NAACP conventions, numerous cruises, resort visits, sporting events and many other travel adventures. Bertha was an avid sports fan and especially loved the Chicago Cubs, Iowa Hawkeyes and the Washington Warriors. Bertha attended countless games for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. More importantly, she never missed any important milestones for her family or friends. She was known for her love of baking and sharing these tasty delights, especially lemon bars, with everyone. Her kindness and generosity were evident to all. If you made a special request for one of her sweet treats, you were sure to get a special delivery. She was also known for sending personal cards for special occasions, sympathy or encouragement. Bertha loved her family, demonstrating unconditional love and support, always encouraging and praying the very best for all of them. They were the first to benefit from all the kind things she did for others. She knew she was dearly loved by her family, as she recently told a hospital staff member, they treated her like a queen.

At the time of her transition, to meet her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, she was surrounded in love, by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, other loved ones and special friends, a total of 23 people, who she loved dearly.

She is survived by her children, David Garner of Cedar Rapids and Tracy (Eldridge) Jenkins, of Bloomington, Ill.; a brother, John Hildreth of Rock Island, Ill.; a sister-in-law, Laura Hildreth of Thomasville, Ga.; five grandchildren, Danielle, Lindsay, MacKenzie, Nathan and Mariah (Alex);12 great-grandchildren, Omaria, Orianna, Jariece, Tony Jr., Dallyn, Judaiah, Jayli, Julian, Quinton, Presley, Gideon and Emery; and a great-great-granddaughter, Azleigh. A host of nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, cousins and many special friends, including Quinton’s mom, Jessi Gosch, Kathy Hodges and her dear neighbors Joyce, Pat and Gary.

She was preceded in death by her beloved son, Gerry Wayne Garner; her grandparents, Hugh and Bessie (Reeves) Hildreth and Leonard and Amy (Patton) Cole; her parents, Charles and Rozaline Hildreth; and siblings, Charles Leonard, Stanley Ray, Victor Leon, Hugh Alexander and David Russell Hildreth.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family. Please leave a message, tribute, or memory to Bertha’s family at under obituaries.

Leave a Message