Michael Bernazzani passed away November 21, 2018 at his home in Camas, WA. Mike was born March 16, 1947 in Yakima, WA to Attilio F. (Mike) and Maxine Bernazzani.
Mike was a 1965 graduate of Eisenhower High School, he earned his Association Degree from YVCC in 1967, and a Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Washington in 1969. He completed graduate work in 1985 with a Masters Degree in education from Central Washington University, and continued post-graduate studies in administration at Washington State University.
In 1969 Mike began his 30 year career in education with the Yakima School District at Davis High School, serving as a teacher of social studies, humanities, and debate coach. Four years later, under the direction of Superintendent, Jack Frisk, Mike moved into the school district office as an administrative intern. Frisk, Mike’s valued mentor, promoted him to Director of Teacher Corp, and Assistant Principal at Lewis and Clark Middle School. It was these early administrative experiences that lead Mike to effect changes for kids on a broader scale, outside of the classroom, and use his love and respect for teachers as his compass for guiding administrative decisions for years to come. Colleagues and students in Yakima became Mike and Renee’s lifelong family friends.
Mid school year in 1976, Mike and Renee were asked to move to Olympia to work as the Administrative Assistant to Deputy Jack Frisk, who was serving Frank B. (Buster) Brouillet, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. It was here that Mike learned how to influence the direction of state educational policy, while Renee gave birth to their first child, Mark. After two years at OSPI, Mike was hired by Washington State School Directors Association as Assistant Executive Director, working as a lobbyist. During this time Mike and Renee’s daughter Brooke was born, and Mike continued to hone his educational policy skills before returning, with his family of four, to Yakima.
Mike left a strong impact on Central Washington’s regional education programs. He joined Educational Service District 105 as a special education consultant in 1981, and the following year became the agency’s Superintendent, a job he held for 17 years. Mike’s colleagues remember him as a positive personality, and a boss who encouraged new ideas and creative thinking. Under his leadership 25 public school districts, and many private schools, in the region benefited from business and instructional innovations that included starting the Workers Compensation Insurance Cooperative, the Educational Technology Support Center, the Prevention/Intervention Program, the Regional Science Education Project, and building the ESD 105 Conference Center. Most importantly, Mike recognized the disparities for students in public education and made it clear that he wanted programs and people at the ESD to address that disparity. Mike was respected and loved by staff, and they strived to live up to the motto he coined for the agency, “service is our middle name.” He was humble and didn’t like to be the guy in front, rather, his goal was to keep public education in front.
Mike valued his community and was a Rotarian, and on the boards of EPIC, the Washington State Arts Commission, and United Way of Yakima County serving as their Board Chair in 1996. From 1991-92 Mike was President of Washington State School Administrators, and in 1995 Mike was given the Distinguished Alumni Award, by Yakima Valley Community College.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Marc Bernazzani. He is survived by wife, Renee and children: Mark Bernazzani (Jill), Brooke Bernazzani-Schiewe (Alex) and four beautiful grandchildren: Stella and Jackson Schiewe; Michael and Logan Bernazzani; and brother Dave Holt, of Portland, OR.
A Celebration of Mike’s Life will be held at the Yakima Area Arboretum in Yakima, WA on Thursday, December 13 at 1 pm. The family would like to thank all of our many personal and professional friends for their love and support. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make remembrances to organizations of your choosing and most importantly, spread kindness in your family and community.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown’s Funeral Home. To sign the online guest book, please visit www.brownsfh.com.