Bernard Dempsey

Bernard John "Bernie" Dempsey

Friday, April 16th, 1948 - Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
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Bernard “Bernie” Dempsey, 71, passed at away at St. Joseph Hospital in Polson on October 9, 2019. Bernie was born On April 16, 1948 in San Bernardino, CA and was raised there as well.

Bernie is a graduate of UCLA and served in the Army during Vietnam station in Hawaii. He moved to Montana in the late 1960’s and worked alongside his parent Ed and Fran Dempsey at their store in downtown Polson. Eventually Bernie bought the store from his parents and built his own store known as “Dempsey’s” on 7th Ave East in Polson.

Bernie was known for his kindness and honesty in dealing with his customers, many of whom he considered good friends.

Bernie helped spearhead bringing cable TV to the Polson area with his time, careful planning and his hard physical work, at times even climbing the polls himself.

Bernie was a devout Catholic, attending daily Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson. He was a very generous man and helped many people survive through some very difficult times in their lives. He operated a pawn shop within the confines of his second hand store and which was a huge help to many local residents when hardships or emergencies arose for them. He was a fine man of good character and will surely be missed by family, friends, and the community. Rest in peace Bernie, you did good!

Bernie is survived by his sister Cheryl of Plymouth, CA, his niece Laura and his great niece Autumn of Folsom, CA, his nephew Michael Hayes of San Diego, CA and cousins Jim, Tony, and Peg from Illinois and Connecticut and cousins Maryann and Bobby of California, as well as many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday October 26, 2019 at 10:30 at The Lake Funeral Home in Polson, MT.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, October 26th, 2019 | 10:30am
    Saturday, October 26th, 2019 10:30am
    The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory
    101 Sixth Avenue East
    Polson, MT 59860
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Carla Robertson

Posted at 03:25pm
I reconnected with Bernard in 2001 when St. Anne's Catholic School in San Bernardino held an 8th grade reunion; it was our 39th! Odd number, but it coincided with the 35th High School Reunion. He will always be "Bernard" to me as that's how I knew him in grade school. At the reunion, I found him to have grown into a most humble, kind and warm man. We corresponded for the next 18 years. He always remembered my birthday in March; I would send him a note for his in April. And every year he sent a Novena of Masses for my husband and me. I learned of his love for the Iditarod and of his work on the Indian Reservation, the Pawn Shop and his store. I didn't know he had been married; I didn't know he had a sister and many other relatives. I feel badly that it's been six months since his passing. I came to realize he was gone when I received a "bounce-back" from the birthday greeting I sent him. I should have realized something was wrong when I didn't get our annual Christmas Novena. May you rest in peace Bernard/Bernie. You deserve your heavenly reward.

Jarrett Richey

Posted at 01:15pm
Hello my name is Jarrett Richey and I have a memory to share,
Bernie was first of all my friend, I have many memories of him but the earliest I can remember is of the dempseys pawn shop and of the fishing section. Some of the earliest memories I have are of me and my father going into dempseys and my as a young boy of 5 or 6 running into the shop straight to the fishing section to look at lures. At times Bernie would come over and let me look at the lures and I would barter back and forth with with him over a dollar or two for a lure until finally he would sell me a couple and the couple dollars I had i spent on the finest fishing lures money could buy. At times when I was little he would often give me lures even for free or throw in a few extras that I didnt have enough money for. Its one of my fondest memories of that place. Over time as I got older I grew more out of lures and into video games and into other things in which Dempsey always had. Over the years he taught me how to negotiate and barter a skill that is not known to many in our current generation. Over time I got good at it and began to watch how he ran his store and I was fascinated with how he conducted his business. I began to understand how to deal and how profit was never the idea of business that Bernie held but rather the idea of people and aiding them in their life and keeping prices low. This is somthing often that does not exist in today's world as most business's items now are overpriced from the internet. Bernie ran his business like his family had for years and it was one of the last remaining good pawn shops I enjoyed the most where I could go and see my friend and see what new things had come in. Over the years i grew older I began to know Bernie better the things he liked and liked to do. I got to meet Steve and his valiant companion chum lee, to gentleman that were as mutch a part of Dempseys and its memory as Bernie was. They all were the faces of the shop and will always be. Bernie loved the people he worked with and Steve as his best friend. He loved the world of pawn and he loved doing business and it was his way of life. Over the years bernie helped me with the things I grew into and I was his friend. Over time i grew into collecting and shooting guns, I shot clay pigeons as a hobby and shot paper targets at the gun range. It was and still is one of my favorite things to do. Bernie also had a great liking to the world of trap shooting and collecting as well and he helped me start. As the years passed I grew more and more with bernies help across my life and that's not somthing I could ever repay. Over time since I was a boy looking at lures, to having Dempsey helping me find a good shotgun for clay pigeons bernie had always been there. However last year I moved off to college and had to say goodbye to Bernie knowing I would be back In the summer to see him again, and when i came back it was the same as normal at the shop and there was my friend doing what he always loved. In the recent years I have grown close to bernie and we have become great friends, last summer before I left for college a second time bernie let me help him with the store as I began to show a great interest in business, and this upcoming summer in 2020 he was going to let me help him run the shop. I cant ever thank him enough for all of the kindness he showed me and his efforts to help me start all that I have. I will always remember Bernie and I will always remember my friend. Sadly I was Will not able to attend his funeral as I'm still in college but ill be back again at thanksgiving. That little boy will always remember what happened at the shop and the kind man that had all the best lures. May he rest in peace and one day I will see him again.
With condolences to his family
And with my best memories to Bernie
-Jarrett Richey

Eileen Valek

Posted at 02:07pm
God bless our very dear and much loved cousin, Bernie Dempsey. Every year when we drove up from Chicago, our first stop into town and our last stop out of town was always the pawn shop to see Bernie. We were blessed to have had so many wonderful times with him like dinners at Kwataqnuk, laughing with him at the pawn shop, and seeing that shy little smile he had. He was loved by many and so kind to everyone. The Big Sky country has taken another angel from us, but our memories will last a lifetime. Although he is gone, he will always be with us in spirit. We love you Bernie. The Valek Family

Gen Huitt

Posted at 10:53pm
Bernie and his wife would have dinner with my husband an I just loved it.. an there turn would be a BBQ a family experience, We'd see them in Church at the store. Infact I just saw Bernie 3 days ago an he was always with a smile a kind word or a good word for everyone on his card catalog. May you rest in Peace dear person an may your soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest in Peace ...Amen Your friend, Gen Huitt see you in Heaven

Connie Bull

Posted at 09:28pm
So very sorry for your loss. Bernie was a very kind and gentle man. We were honored to have known him. Dave and Connie Bull

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