Brian L. Bjerke

October 23, 1971 — July 5, 2024


TOMAH- Brian L. Bjerke, age 52, of Tomah, Wisconsin, passed away on July 5, 2024, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Born on October 23, 1971, in Tomah, Wisconsin, to LeRoy and Joan (Conant) Bjerke.   Brian’s early life was filled with the warmth of small-town camaraderie and the spirit of community that would come to define him.

A proud 1991 graduate of Tomah High School, he was active in show choir and traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the close-knit choir. He loved to perform and was a talented vocalist.  Brian’s thirst for knowledge led him to pursue an associate’s degree from Western Technical College in drafting. Brian worked for Leer, where he applied his expertise in drafting to design refrigeration units. His professional life was marked not only by his contributions to his field but also by the breadth of his skills and interests. Brian’s hands were rarely still, as he found joy in hoof trimming and the art of pulling trailers.

In 1994, Brian was united in marriage to Lisa Weiss, they later divorced.  To this union, Shawn and Bethany were born.  Brian was a true family man who loved his children and family more than anything. 

His colorful career also included moments that were as unique as they were delightful. Brian’s time as a rodeo clown was a testament to his bravery and his innate ability to make people laugh, a trait that endeared him to all who knew him. Perhaps the most heartwarming of his roles was that of Santa Claus, a part he played for over 25 years.  Being Santa took him all over the country, he even had a Las Vegas residency for a few years.  His portrayal of Saint Nick brought joy and wonder to countless children, especially those at the children’s hospital, where his visits were a beacon of light and hope.

Brian’s interests were as varied as his career. He possessed a natural talent for making people laugh, a gift he shared generously with everyone around him. His friendly demeanor made him a beloved figure in his community, and his generosity knew no bounds. A significant moment in his life was receiving a kidney transplant in 1995, an event that gave him a renewed zeal for life and an appreciation for the preciousness of each day.

Those who knew Brian would say he was the epitome of funny, friendly, and generous. He had the rare ability to light up a room with his presence and leave a lasting impression on the hearts of those he met. His laughter was a melody that resonated long after he departed, and his friendship was a gift that many cherished deeply.  Brian’s deeply rooted faith guided him his entire life. He defied all odds in the medical world with grace and positivity.  His generosity and outlook on life will be remembered by all who knew him. 

Brian is survived by his parents, LeRoy and Joan, his children, Shawn (Sammi) Bjerke and Bethany Bjerke, siblings, Lynn Bjerke, Steven (Carol) Bjerke and Susan Cummings, along with many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his brother, Gary.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, July 9, 2024, 11:00 a.m. at Mt. Pisgah Wesleyan Church, E13198 Pisgah Road, Ontario, Wisconsin 54651.  Pastor Nathan Pyykkonen will officiate.  Burial will follow in the Mount Vernon Cemetery, Tomah, Wisconsin.  Family and friends are invited for visitation Monday, July 8, 2024, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Torkelson Funeral Home in Tomah.  Family and friends are also invited for visitation Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service at the church.  The Torkelson Funeral Home of Tomah is assisting the family with arrangements.  Online condolences are available at


Torkelson Funeral Home