Bernice earned a B.S. from
Marion Normal College, in Marion, Indiana, on August 22,
1912. (The college is now known as Indiana Wesleyan
University.) She moved to the
Clinton Co. & Carroll Co. area of Indiana and taught
Hoosier farm kids in one-room school houses. There was an
old man who did maintenance work on the school house; his
name was George Hooker. After
she had taught a year in Pyrmont, the school district
reassigned Bernice to teach in Owasco. In Owasco, Bernice
rented a room from the old man's daughter, Sarah Catharine Hooker (Mrs. Jesse Beard).
At some point while
teaching in Owasco, Bernice met a son of her friend Mr.
George Hooker. Mr. Hooker's son George Washington Hooker
was a rancher in LaFleche, Saskatchewan, Canada. When the
son came to visit his family, he said that teachers were
needed where he lived in Saskatchewan. Bernice went to
Canada and taught Saskatchewan farm kids.
|By the time of the 1930 U.S.
Census, Bernice, her husband, and their three sons were
living in South Bend, Indiana. They'd found one of the
few houses in the neighborhood with a bathtub. The house
had a bathtub because the previous occupant had used the
tub to make illegal alcohol during the years of the 18th
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the time of
The photo to the left shows Bernice and Irv's three children, seated on a piano bench, each boy dressed with care by Bernice. From left to right are Max, Bruce, and Miles, at about ages 5, 4, and 7.
According to the 1930 Census, Bernice's husband worked as a gravel contractor. The family's next door neighbors to either side were the Batchelor family and the Marsak family.
In the 1940s, she worked at a South Bend hospital as a records keeper and medical secretary, and in 1944 she became a grandmother when her son Max's wife gave birth to a little girl. Ultimately, Bernice had four granddaughters and six grandsons. All of her granddaughters were born before she passed on; only one of her grandsons was born while Bernice was still of this world. For each of her four granddaughters, Bernice began a collection of sterling silver flatware. It was a gift and tradition that she wanted for her granddaughters.
Fast forward to 1955: Bernice was in the hospital in the last stages of Bright's disease, dying of uremic poisoning. Salt could be wiped off her forehead. She was in such pain that she begged one of her sons to put her out of her misery. Her hospital and medical bills were so great that the insurance company had cancelled her policy. Friends would come to visit her in the hospital and say, "We're praying for you," and Bernice would answer, "You're all praying for me, but Irv's paying the bills." Her husband, sons, and daughters-in-law sat with her in a death watch during her final weeks in the hospital. When the end came on April 1, 1955, it was Irv who was with her.
Her body was buried at a spot she had chosen in a cemetery that looked like a park: St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park, in Granger, St. Joseph Co., IN. She chose the spot because it was under a shade tree, and she wanted any family who visited her grave to be comfortable.
After her casket was covered with dirt, a little girl asked, "Is she in Heaven now?"
And the answer came, "Yes. She's in Heaven."
Bernice's obituary from the South Bend Tribune, Friday, April 1, 1955:
The five grandchildren Bernice left when she died in 1955 were Mary Fran (11), Tom (6), Alice (4), Fern (3), and Laura (1). Five more grandchildren were born in the years after Bernice's death. To see the newspaper clipping of her obituary, CLICK HERE.
To see Bernice's
descendants, check her husband's page: