Bernadine (Bernie) Matzke

(December 27, 1929 to January 9, 2015)

Bernie started dancing at age 4.  Her lessons were part of an insurance policy her mother took out and the dancing went with the policy for an extra $0.35.  As a pre-teen her mother took her to the Gladys Garot School of Dance and at 16, her teacher asked Bernie to be her assistant in teaching.  In high school Bernie began studying baton twirling and became a band majorette.  In the summer of 1946 Bernie attended her first session with the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and later taught baton twirling lessons for the Chicago Dance Masters.

In 1946, at age 17, Bernie graduated from high school and opened her own school of dance and baton.  In 1947 she joined the Green Bay Lumberjack Band, performed at the Green Bay Packer games as one of the original majorettes, and organized the first Packerette group which performed at the Packers football games.  Bernie organized the Packerettes, a group of her students.  As the Packerettes got a little older they competed in twirling competitions, and at one time they were state and national champions.  This first group performed at Packers games in the 1950s.  In the 1970s the Packerettes were revived and once again, Bernie was the director of this talented group that performed at the Green Bay Packers home games.  At the same time, Bernie had a group called the Packerette Entertainers who performed at local nursing homes, for the Green Bay City Band concerts, and in area parades.

In 1980, Bernie and her daughter Kim toured with the City Band in Poland for ten days.  Kim was the solo twirler and Bernie and Kim performed in a mother and daughter dance exhibition.  One of the Packerette Entertainers’ most memorable moments was when Bob Hope came to town and put on a show dedicating a railroad museum and Bernie’s girls were the Bob Hope Girls for his show.  When Bob Hope walked into rehearsal he came right up to Bernie and said, “Alright Bernie, what do you want me to do?”