Bernard "Bernie" Sayler

May 1, 1930September 25, 2020
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Des Moines

Bernard Wesley Sayler, 90, went home to be with his Savior on Friday, September 25, 2020. He was born in Underwood, North Dakota on May 1, 1930, the son of Rosina Landenberger and George Samuel Sayler, the fifth of seven children. When he was nine years old, the entire family relocated to Lodi, California. Bernard graduated from Lodi Union High School in 1948. He initially attended community college studying industrial arts before pursuing a degree in theology from Yankton College in South Dakota, where he graduated in 1954. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Andover-Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1964.

Bernard married Marlys Ann Larsen on June 6, 1952, after meeting during their freshman year at Yankton College while working on a homecoming float. They celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary in June of this year.

During his ministerial career, Bernard provided his parishioners with compassion, care and support. He served United Church of Christ (UCC) congregations in Fairfax, South Dakota; Naper, Nebraska; Halifax, Massachusetts; Hartington, Nebraska; and Hartley, Iowa. Following this, Bernard became Administrator/Manager of Kamp Kaleo, a UCC-affiliated church camp in Burwell, Nebraska. Bernard and Marlys moved to West Des Moines to be closer to their children where he continued his congregational ministry by assisting Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Bernard and Marlys were truly partners in life. They loved to socialize, travel and were known for their skill on the dance floor. They developed cherished friendships with people everywhere they lived that continue to this day.

Bernard was an active member of the communities he served. His civic work included being a volunteer fireman, organizing youth basketball programs and acting as a Boy Scout leader. He held leadership roles in many organizations, including local Lions and Kiwanis clubs, Gyro International and local economic development initiatives. Bernard and Marlys were also active members of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Des Moines, Iowa.

Bernard had a passion for life and was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was a skilled carpenter and enjoyed oil painting, silversmithing, writing and attending activities of his grandchildren.

Some of his proudest moments were officiating the weddings of his children and grandchildren and the baptisms of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bernard lived a life of gratitude and to the end was appreciative of the care he received from friends, colleagues and especially caretakers at EveryStep Kavanagh House, Mercy Medical Center and Scottish Rite Park.

Bernard was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings. Left to cherish his memory are his wife Marlys, Des Moines, Iowa; son Steven (Rhonda) Sayler, Indianola, Iowa; Cynthia (Alan) Adams, West Des Moines, Iowa; and Shelly (David) Soorholtz, Clive, Iowa as well as 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Plymouth United Church of Christ Foundation, 4126 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, Iowa 50312 or EveryStep Kavanagh House Hospice, 900 56th Street, Des Moines, IA 50312

A private family service will be held on October 3, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. Please visit to watch Bernard’s service on Facebook live or you may watch at a later time. Whether watching the live video or picture tribute, please leave a comment or like the video so the family knows you visited.


  • Private Family Service

    Saturday, October 3, 2020



Bernard "Bernie" Sayler

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jess Hoskinson

February 15, 2021

I can remember singing a song (with your family )on the last day your Dad and Mom and family were leaving for your next adventure.
The name of the song stayed with me for a long time, but some memories fade, but they were good ,good memories.
Sorry for the loss of Bernie, it looks like he really LIVED!!!!

Rene Kantack

October 11, 2020

My Dad, Dwayne Lindgren, fondly remembers Rev. Sayler & his wife from their time at Fairfax, SD. He met them again in June 1953, when he was an Army Private at Letterman Army Hospital in California.

I'm including a photo which he took of them at that time.

Monica Burrows

October 3, 2020

I loved the service. It was so beautiful! I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to have spend time with Uncle Bernard. We spoke the day before his birthday. I owe him so much. It is because of him I got to connect with all of. I remember being at the 50th weeding anniversary in Mesa. That was a wonderful time. It would be the last time when all his brothers and sisters were together. I loved our visits at the family reunion in Tucson and all my visits with him and Aunt Marlys in Mesa. He sure could dance. I enjoyed he his stories, his humor, and his laughter. Thank you for letting me be a part of this celebration online. It touched my heart hearing everyone share those memories of him. Lord bless you all and meet all your needs. Hugs and Kisses. Monica Burrows Oro Valley AZ

Dee Brauninger

September 30, 2020

Marlys, I remember you and Bernie clearly at Kamp Kaleo. Bob and I admired you, enjoyed you, and learned from you. You made Kaleo a better experience for all those campers. I know from Bob's death 20 months ago that your transition will be a huge change. I also know that it is possible to move through the grief work journey and come forward with a sense of gratitude and peace. I celebrate Bernie's fine life and career, and I celebrate your partnership in that journey. Godspeed. Rev. Dr. Dee Brauninger

Angela Weber

September 30, 2020

I met Bernie when I managed the Volunteer Department at MercyOne hospital. He was a wonderful volunteer at the information desk. Greeting people with his smile and using his calm demeanor to reassure patients and visitors. I enjoyed many conversations with Bernie. His family and love for them were primary topics. My thoughts and prayers are with Marlys and the family.

Rodney Boetel

September 29, 2020

RIP Reverend Sayler Sending prayers to the family. I remember him as the best minister I ever knew. He made being a member of the church fun.

Joan Martin

September 29, 2020

I have life long memories of Bernard, Marlys and family because of attending so many family reunions and gatherings over the years. He was a wonderful man and will be very missed.

Robyn Bles

September 28, 2020

Bernie was a big influence on me, and helped shaped me and my ministry. I was a young camper at Kamp Kaleo in the last years of Bernie and Marlys's ministry at Kaleo. I had no idea we were both here in the Des Moines area, as I serve at Wakonda Christian Church.

Prayers of comfort and peace with his family. I am so very grateful for his life and ministry - and his silly puppet Calvin teaching me that faith and ecology go hand-in-hand.
Rev. Robyn (Fickes) Bles

Leila Landenberger

September 28, 2020

Cousin Bernard will be miss. When him and Marlys would come to North Dakota to visit, it was always a good time. Rest in peace Bernard. I will be thinking of the family and will keep them in my prayers. God bless you all.

Ralph Sayler

September 27, 2020


My earliest memories of Bernie were from the 1930’S while our families lived in the Underwood, North Dakota area. Our families often got together for social events. Since Bernie was my age we would play together. However; during the great depression the George Sayler family moved to California, so our friendship ended for an extended period of time.

When I enrolled in Yankton College in 1950, who should be there but my friend Bernie. We had many good times there; playing sports and doing what college kids do. We were both on the track team. Bernie’s specialty was the 440 yard dash. Once at the beginning of his race he was so excited that he jumped the gun three times and was disqualified from the race. The coach then substituted me in his place. I didn’t do very well as I usually entered the shorter races. Bernard also played football and Marlys was a cheerleader. Well, you guessed it; they started dating. One time he borrowed my car to go on a date with Marlys. I think he asked the question that night.
The following summer I was privileged to stand beside them at their wedding ceremony at Stickney, South Dakota. That very day if God had come to you and said: “Marlys, I am going to make you an offer. I will give you a happy lovable husband for 68 years but then it will be time for him to come home.” Would you have made that deal? So rather than think about what has been taken away, we need to think about what God has shared with us. This is God’s design, God’s plan. He blessed you with Bernie for 68 years.

Another consolation is the fact that he does not have to go through the grief that you are going through now. You are substituting for him.

Our greatest consolation, however; is our Christian Faith, which assures us that we will all be together some day. This is so because God substituted his son for us on the cross. God bless us all. AMEN