Phyllis M. Berkenes

Phyllis M. Berkenes, age 100, of Clarion, Iowa, died August 22, 2023 at Wellspring Living, Waterloo, Iowa. She was surrounded by family and so much love. 

Phyllis was born on the Fraser family farm on the corner of Holmes and Hwy 3 to Morris and Edith (Wampler) Fraser. Her elementary education started in the Holmes 2 room school house, she then graduated from Clarion High School in 1941. 

She was united in marriage to Mervin John Berkenes on February 14, 1943, in Goldfield, Iowa.  They had a daughter, Sandra, born in 1946. The three of them enjoyed a good life on their farm. Mervin passed away October 4, 1991. She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandma. 

The couple wintered in Arizona for 22 years and Phyllis continued for 10 more after Mervin's passing. She loved the outdoor activities in Arizona and baking and gardening at home.  She gladly shared the fruits of her labor with friends and family. 

Being a faithful member of Holmes Lutheran Church, she participated in the church choir and Home Circle. She was also an active member of her Neighborhood Ladies group and a 4-H leader. In 2010, after moving to the Meadows Senior Community, Phyllis enjoyed volunteering in the Clarion Hospital gift shop and continued until her late 90’s.  

She loved playing bingo, cards and quilting with friends. Music was very important to Phyllis. She loved singing and in her younger years played guitar. She listened to music on cassette tapes in her apartment. She enjoyed listening to her grandson play guitar and watching videos of his band. 

She regularly attended exercise classes past the age of 100. After a fall on Memorial Day 2023, Phyllis looked forward to her daily therapy to keep up with her exercise. Her therapists said she worked harder than most 80 year olds. When asked about the secret to her longevity, her answer was always, "Hard work and exercise”. She was very proud to be 100!!!  

Phyllis is survived by her daughter, Sandra "Sandie" Warren and her granddaughter, Susie (Kevin) Karns of Waterloo; step granddaughters Ginger (Scott) Knapp and Kimberly (Jason) Dahl, all of Rochester, Minnesota. Also, great grandchildren Whitney, Zach, Noah, Brooke, John, Kaden, Kylie and Sebastian. Step great grandchildren Taylor, Logan, Kennis, Madeline, Claire; and great-great grandchildren Ivy, Erikson “Ray”, Hayze, Flynn, Paisley, and Gianna. 

Preceded in death by her husband, parents, sisters Bernice Anderson Hanson and Maxine Brinkman; brothers Glenn, Emmett, and Don Fraser; son-in-law John M. Warren and granddaughter Terri Tate (Aug. 14, 2023) both of  Waterloo.

Phyllis had a contagious smile, a caring soul and will be greatly missed by everyone whose heart she touched. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to The Holmes Lutheran Church or The Holmes Lutheran Cemetery. 

We appreciate your kindness and expressions of sympathy. The family of Phyllis Berkenes 



Wright County Monitor

P.O. Box 153
Clarion, IA 50525
Phone: 515-532-2871

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit for more information.