Longtime resident of Great Falls, Bernard Krystkowiak, 90, died April 14, 2023.
Born on September 3, 1932, in Bodzewko, Poland he was one of eight children whose family was
forcibly evicted from their family farm by Hitler's forces at the beginning of WWII. They endured
detainment in enemy labor camps in Germany, and then in the American sector of the displaced persons
camps after the war. The family immigrated to the U.S. in 1949 under sponsorship from the Catholic
Church. Shelby, Montana was the somewhat random final destination where the family settled working
for various farmers, employers and for many of them, eventually for the Great Northern Railroad. Bernard
served honorably in the U.S. Army until 1963, stationed mostly in Germany as a proud, bilingual
chauffeur/assistant for an American colonel. Following his service, he returned to Shelby and found his
lifelong occupation as a RR signal maintainer, first as a backup maintainer requiring knowledge of every
railroad subdivision between Minot, ND and Newport, WA before more permanent locations of Essex,
MT, a return to Shelby, and eventually Great Falls where he retired.
Bernard enjoyed playing card games of any kind, his favorite being Poker which he practiced frequently.
He appreciated fine automobiles throughout life and was rarely spotted in any ride that wasn't purely
immaculate. He enjoyed music, and pro wrestling, and had a very good reputation as a fantastic dance
partner. Coming from such a hard scrabble early life, the trappings that American life offered were not
lost on him or the family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph (1968) and Sophia (1980); five brothers, Bruno (1949),
Roman (1987), Marion (2007), Casey (2007), and Stanley (2009); wife, Helen (Nyberg) (1973); and wife,
Rosalee (Parker) (2008). He is survived by his sons, Bernard of Kalispell, and Larry (Jan) of San Diego,
CA; stepdaughters, Kay Brannen (Pat) of Great Falls and Diane Leavit (Phil) of Boise, ID; sisters, Lucia
Kiefer of Great Falls and Monica Fioriglio of Ormond Beach, FL; and numerous grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for a later date. Condolences for the family may be posted online at
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