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Skagit Cycle Center co-founder Bernie Santiago dies at 60

Published April 6, 2024

DICKINSON, N.D. (BRAIN) — Bernice “Bernie” (Kessel) Santiago died on March 9 in the comfort of her own home surrounded by family. She was only 60 years of age.

According to her family, Bernie is survived by her partner Gary Santiago. "Bernie and Gary were married for 36 amazing years filled with travel, adventure, and love. Bernie and Gary had a passion for cycling, together they started and grew Skagit Cycle Center to be the thriving bicycle shop it is today. Bernie was the finances and logistics behind the entire operation," the family said. 

"Bernie was more than her career. Bernie and Gary raised a family, built a solid group of friends, and have made a lasting impact on their community. In the true sense of the meaning, Bernie and Gary lived out their vows until the very end, in sickness and in health," they said.

More from an obituary shared with BRAIN:

Bernie’s long and hard battle with Breast Cancer started in 2019. Surgery, chemotherapy, doctors' visits, and more took over Bernie’s once-busy schedule. Each week faced a new challenge and new symptoms. Despite her diagnosis, Bernie made the decision to say “yes” to everything and anything she could. Gary and Bernie bought an RV and traveled the U.S., visiting Yosemite, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Arches, and many more parks. They rode a helicopter through the Grand Canyon, and shared a hot air balloon ride at sunset with friends. If the question “do you want to?” was asked, the answer was, “absolutely.” Bernie lived until she couldn’t.

Bernie left too soon, leaving her three children Alec, Sydney, and Mercedes earlier than a mom should. Bernie’s love for her family will be continued on by the traditions, memories, and impact she made on her family. Bernie started each morning by Facetiming her daughters, and never left a phone call with her son without saying “I love you.” The Santiago household was filled with so much love because Bernie had an endless amount to give.

Bold. Genuine. Honest. Loving. Were all words to describe Bernie. The master home decorator, and the best organizer. A rummikub pro, and a Jon Bon Jovi fan. When we think of Bernie we think of the color teal, a gin and tonic, red velvet cake, and baby goats. Bernie was loving, fun, beautiful, and truly our favorite person. We will miss Bernie for the rest of our lives until we meet her again.

Bernie’s memorial will be held at Wisteria Gardens, April 14th, at 12:00pm. There will be a short service followed by a reception with food and drink. We want to take time to be with friends and family.

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