Robert C. Bretl

Robert C. Bretl, 91, of Port Washington entered eternal life on April 4, 2023.

Robert was born on Nov. 16, 1931, in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and he fondly recalled his boyhood days of swimming, fishing and picking cherries with his brothers.

His family moved to Port Washington and he graduated from Port Washington High School in 1949. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan Campus for two years before serving in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955.

After his military service, he finished his undergraduate studies at UW-Madison in 1956 and later earned a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

Robert worked as a driver for Port Washington’s bus company and at his brother Darrell’s TV and repair business before finding his true vocation in education.

He taught social studies at Grafton Junior High School for four years before becoming the Port Washington Junior High School librarian in 1964. He was proud to be involved in planning the construction of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. He was a member of the first faculty class in 1968 and served as school librarian until his retirement in 1994. It was fitting that Robert passed on April 4, which happens to be National School Librarian Day.

Robert married the love of his life, Bernadine Brentrup, in 1957.

They were proud parents and devoted grandparents. They rarely missed one of their grandchildren’s many school concerts or sporting events and delighted in attending UW-Madison’s Grandparents University. They were members of the program’s inaugural class in 2000 and attended sessions with their grandkids for 10 years.

They also loved camping, caring for their dogs, tending their garden and volunteering together. Except for the four months separating Bernadine’s death from Robert’s, the two were together for more than 65 years.

Robert was an active volunteer. He was a founding member of the Friends of the Niederkorn Library and served on the City of Port Washington Library Board. He cataloged photos for the Port Washington Historical Society, fostered puppies and kittens for the Wisconsin Humane Society Ozaukee Campus in Saukville, prepared monthly meals for the St. Benedict the Moor meal site in Milwaukee and delivered Meals on Wheels well into his 80s.

Until prevented by health issues, Robert was an active member of St. John XXIII Catholic Parish, videotaping Sunday Mass for the local cable access station.

He is survived by his daughter Catherine (Kevin) Gardner and son David (Jacquelyn), as well as six grandchildren, Rebecca, Andrea, Eric, Daniel, Robert and Amelia.

He was preceded in death by his parents Andrew and Elda Bretl and brothers Alden and Darrell.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Tuesday, April 25, at noon at St. John XXIII Parish, St. Mary’s Church, 452 Johnson St., Port Washington. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the Mass.

Internment will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery immediately following the Mass.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Friends of the Niederkorn Library, the Port Washington Historical Society or one of the other organizations Robert supported.

Eernisse Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be left at



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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