Shirley Bertsch

shirley bertsch

Shirley’s memorial service will be viewable on this page starting at 3:00 PM, Sunday January 22, 2023:

Shirley Mae Bertsch, West Fargo, ND died January 17, 2023 at home, unexpectedly after briefly feeling under the weather. She was still doing things according to her strict schedule, as was her habit.

Shirley Mae Renner was born to Mike and Eleanor Renner on September 26, 1940, in Ada, Minnesota and raised on the family farm near Felton, where she attended elementary and middle school. Shirley attended and graduated high school from Mount St. Benedict, a Catholic boarding school in Crookston, Minnesota, where she didn’t meet her future husband, but she dated some of his neighbors from Hillsboro and school mates from the Northwest School of Agriculture, across town.

After graduation, Shirley worked at 1st National Bank in Moorhead, and Bell Telephone in Fargo. She married Alvin Bertsch August 24, 1961. They originally lived in Hillsboro, ND before moving to the farm in nearby Herberg Township after a winter at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1962-63 with first born Daniel. Shirley often said that winter at Fort Leonard Wood was one of the best of her marriage. Son Steven was born the next fall to prove the point. A brief venture into food service with Alvin, her sister Joyce and brother-in-law Gordy Nelson saw the creation of the Red Pepper in Grand Forks, North Dakota which had previously been a pizza place. To this day Shirley still used those pizza pans to bake her famous homemade buns and rolls on. In 1965 Alvin’s guard unit deployed to New York for summer camp. Shirley took the opportunity to come with to visit a former roommate and see New York. Leann was her memento, born the during the following March 1966 blizzard.

Shirley didn’t have a driver’s license until she was 26, with three kids. It didn’t stop her from driving so it never mattered much to her when her 7-year-olds started driving. She grew up on a farm, and she married a farmer. But farming and trucking were work. Dogs and gardens were her passions. She also enjoyed music. So much so that she made sure all her kids learned multiple instruments and even made weekly trips to Fargo for their music lessons. Once her kids were older, she decided that maybe it was time she learned to play too and learned how to play the organ. She was constantly baking and was quick to put multiple varieties of bars and cookies out if anyone was invited in. She never had store bought cookies, bars, or bread on her table.

Shirley loved fiercely and had a wonderful sense of humor that those of us lucky enough to call her Wife, Mom, Sister, Grandma, or Great-Grandma are especially going to miss.

Shirley is survived by her husband Alvin, her sister Joyce Nelson, her sister Doreen (Lee) Payne, her brother Michael (Diana) Renner, her brother James (Dianne) Renner, children Dan, Steve (Sue), Leann (Rick), Gayle (Jim), and Kara; and grandchildren Erin, Katie (Brian), Sarah (Sean), Emily (Dustyn), Courtney (Damon), Levi (Tiffany), Nicklaus, Denver, Ricky (Noelle), Gabrielle, Aiden, Samantha (Correy), Brandon (Amber), Melanie, Olivia, and Jack; and great-grandchildren Rylan, Myah, Axl, Cameryn, Maren, Isla, Lydia, Josie, Colby, Carter, Tristan, Emma and Olivia Mae. She was also survived by numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Shirley was predeceased by her parents Mike and Eleanor Renner, sisters Alva Renner, and Vernette Engness, brothers-in-law Gordy Nelson, DuWayne Engness, Albert Beckman Sr., and Otto Bertsch Sr.; sister-in-law Lena Beckman; mother-in-law Katherine Bertsch and father-in-law Gottfried Bertsch.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, January 22, 2023 at 3:00 PM with a visitation starting at 2:00 PM at Boulger Funeral Home,123 10th Street South, Fargo, ND 58103; Pastor John Flowers officiating.


Visitation - Sunday: January 22, 2023 2:00 pm

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center
123 10th Street
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


Memorial Service - Sunday: January 22, 2023 3:00 pm

Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center
123 10th Street
Fargo, North Dakota 58103


View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. I am so very sorry for your loss. Nick’s Grandma Shirley’s constant unconditional love was a gift from God to us. She is now a guardian angel in heaven.

    Please accept my condolences. Sending Nick a big hug.

  2. I was not ready to lose mom and I guess a person never is. She would often tell me that I needed to make it home more often as her expiration date was nearing. When I said I was just a phone call away, she told me that wasn’t good enough as she needed to give me a hug. I can’t imagine life without her. She was the person I always turned to when things were good and when they weren’t so good. She loved her family dearly and was her happiest when they were in her home and she could feed them. She would hear me on the radio and call me to tell me she listened and that I did a good job, even if I didn’t. If she saw that I would getting beat up in the media, a bouquet of flowers would appear with a note that she knew I was having a rough day and sending her love. She loved her grandkids and although my kids lived further away, she would make sure they stayed a week or two in the summer or after Christmas so she and dad could have them to their selves and their cousins could hang out with them. I have so many wonderful memories of mom. The only time she ever flew on an airplane was with me. My daughter, Gabrielle, was 4 months old and nursing and I was traveling to a conference in San Diego. She took care of Gabby. We spent all the rest of the time together with my dear cousin Linda who took us out an about in San Diego every evening. She instilled a work ethic in her kids. Never did you dare say you were bored. She worked hard on the farm, making our farmstead look like a well-manicured park with beautiful flowers everywhere. My friends were always welcome and she hosted my dearest friends from law school upon our graduation at the farm. Mom had a wonderful sense of humor and also had a saying for everything. If I changed jobs or decided to move out of state, she told me “sliding around makes your pants grow thin”. There is so much more I could say about mom, but I am eternally grateful that I was one of her kids.

    • I have such fond memories of you and your mom’s visit to San Diego! I recall feeling rather lonely for my mom at that time and they are so much alike that it was the next best thing! Big hugs to you. 😘

  3. So many fun times growing up with our families. I’m so sorry for the loss of Shirley, I know it leaves a big hole for all of you, keep your memories alive by sharing them.

  4. Mom loved unconditionally, and God knows we tested it because she surely told Him about it at least twice a day in her prayers. I remember praying in the car after the news made Mom cry. We prayed for peace in Vietnam, which we did every night, so news of an escalation or the draft must have made her worry about Dad enough that we prayed then and there. I learned my habit of prayer rather than worrying from such examples.
    If I didn’t leave work too late I would call to see if she and Dad needed anything before I went home. Before ending our call Mom would tell her nearly senior-citizen child “you’re a good boy.” It meant as much to the 60 year old as the 6 year old to hear it from her.

  5. Shirley was the only person in the world who could make bread, cookies, and bars like Grandma did. I’ll never forget that big box of star anise cookies she sent to me while I was in grad school in Connecticut; they tasted exactly the way they did when Grandma made them: filled with love and flavor. I ate them all; they were too good to share.

    I’m so grateful to have been able to call Shirley my aunt.

  6. I’ll never be able to describe in words what my mother meant to me. She gave and cared so much for everyone in her her life. She always knew what everyone had going on, even our friends. Mom filled us with our heads with knowledge of where we came from and made sure we knew how to get our souls to where it matters. Love you mom.

  7. My Aunt Shirley was very special to me. Her and Uncle Alvin were/are my godparents as well. My first memory of Shirley was when my sister and I stayed out at their house when I was 4 years old. She made split pea soup and insisted I eat it (much to my dismay), but then rewarded me with Schwan’s mint choc ship ice cream, which ended up being my favorite ice cream for years. No one could make homemade buns like Shirley either! I share Shirley’s love for animals, and I enjoyed talking to her about them. She reminded me a lot of my mom, her sister, Joyce, and I loved that as well. I was so happy I got a chance to visit with her at her home in Fargo when I was in ND in May. Shirley had such a big heart and was so proud of her family. So sorry for your loss, Uncle Alvin, and my cousins.

  8. I was so sad to hear of Shirley’s passing. She was so good to me when I was a young mother and inexperienced farm wife. What I especially remember about her is she made everything beautiful around her. She made everything beautiful, including the great food she made
    She made the best home made bread that I ever ate. She was very gifted. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.


  10. Dear Alvin with your entire family,
    you lost the most precious person. As you remember, I met Shirley first time in 1982. I visited with my grandfather Eugen and his cousin Ruth. Shirley and you were so wonderful to us. I felt so comfortable in your house just like home. Shirley could do everything. She was talented in anything she did. You took time to show me around and you showed me your farm with everything that goes along with it. Just last year for Christmas we were watching old films I had taken with my super 8 camera in 1982. This brought all the nice memories back.
    My intention was to visit you this summer. This is why I was trying to contact you again. I tried to call but could not get through. I send my deepest condolences to all of you.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle