Bernard Lauri Rajaniemi
BROWNS MILLS, NJ – Retired military “Bronze Star” recipient Bernard Lauri Rajaniemi, who recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, died unexpectedly due to injuries sustained in a fall on April 2, 2022.
Bernard was born in Peterborough, NH, on March 17, 1940 to Lauri Leo Rajaniemi and Dorothy Louise (Barrett) Rajaniemi.
Bernard was commonly known as “Bernie” or “Big Bernie” among family and friends. The Dublin, NH native joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17, serving 10 years which included a tour in Japan and Vietnam. He later re-enlisted into the US Army serving a second tour in Vietnam, where he earned the Distinguished Bronze Star Medal and one tour in Korea. His career with the military also included being a Drill Instructor for 5 years while stationed in Fort Dix, NJ. A tour in Germany completed his proud and honorable 22 plus years of service to his country he loved so well. Sergeant First Class Bernard retired from the United States Armed Forces on June 1, 1981.
Bernard began his second career as a corrections officer at the New Jersey State Prison, leading to a second retirement in 1987.
His love for the V.F.W. lead him to proudly serve as Commander of the V.F.W. Post #6805 in Browns Mills, NJ. Oftentimes one could find Bernie sitting in his favorite chair at the American Legion Post #294, where he was a member for 35 years.
Survivors include his six children: Bernard Rajaniemi of Antrim, NH; Dorothy Kelly of Deering, NH; Kimberly Galbraith of Belmont, NH; Matthew Rajaniemi and his wife Crystal of Antrim, NH; Robin Nichols and her husband David of Hillsborough, NH; and Amber Rajaniemi of Browns Mills, NJ. Bernard also leaves behind numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Bernard is predeceased by his wife of 36 years, Ginger (Nazelrod) Rajaniemi who passed away May 19, 2021; his son, Christopher John, who passed away in 1965 as an infant; and his parents Lauri Leo Rajaniemi and Dorothy Louise (Barrett) Rajaniemi. He was the last living relative of his siblings David Rajaniemi; Donald Rajaniemi; Theodore Rajaniemi; Peggy White; and Janet Blanchette.
Memorial services will be determined at a later date by the family.
The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in Mr. Rajaniemi’s memory to your local American Legion, V.F.W. or Fraternal Order of Police.