October 4, 1928 – September 14, 2009
Bernice passed away quietly in Qualicum Beach, BC on September 14. She is survived by her children: Glen (Ruth) of London ON, Greg (Leslie) and Grant (Orisa) of White Rock BC, Robin (David) of Nanoose Bay, BC and Geoff (Diana) of Palgrave, ON. She was predeceased by her brother Robert Connolly (Gloria) and her daughter Paula. She also leaves 16 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
It is the passing of an era. Whether she was called “Granna Crazy Banana” by her grandchildren, “Crazy Auntie Bernie” by her nieces and nephews, “Pickledick the Clown” when entertaining the masses or just plain “Bern”, she was always larger than life. When she entered the room, you knew it – from the masses of gigantic jewellery to the colourful hair and clothes to the voice yelling out “Wanna know what happened to me today?” as she marched into yet another crazy story. She was a force to be reckoned with.
Bernice was born and raised in Toronto, ON. She began her award-winning career in journalism in 1973 at the Niagara Falls Gazette in New York and then the Niagara Falls Review in Ontario all while living in a historic blacksmith shop in Niagara-on-the-Lake. She moved on to the Winnipeg Tribune where her humorous articles started in earnest. After the Tribune closed down, she packed up and headed west again, hired by the Calgary Herald. She spent 11 years as the fashion editor covering the European fashion show circuit, making guest appearances on TV shows, judging fashion and designer events and being introduced to the Queen (who she managed to spit on when being presented). She also interviewed personalities such as Dizzy Gillespie, Karen Kain, Alfred Sung, Mordecai Richler, and Barbara Frum. In 1991 she “retired” to White Rock BC. They never knew what hit them because retirement was not a word she knew. She began her writing again, this time for various community newspapers and magazines. She also organized fashion shows, a dating group and even became a marriage commissioner.
Bernice’s last westward stop was Vancouver Island. She jumped right in with the Parksville Newcomer’s Club, helped organize the Fire and Ice Festival in Qualicum and organized the Christmas Craft Fair at The Gardens in Qualicum. Even when confined to a wheelchair she couldn’t slow down. There was always too much going on in life.
To celebrate this remarkable life please join us on Saturday September 19th from 2-3 at The Gardens in Qualicum BC or on Saturday September 26th at 11 am at St. Marks Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-lake ON. In lieu of flowers, we ask you to remember your favourite story of Bernice. And remember to embellish it with humour and exaggeration because that’s what she would have done! Bring this story to share at either celebration or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A sparkling light has gone out but we hope she’s dreaming up her next tale.