Obituary of Bernice Johnson
Bernice Johnson gave her first hello to the world on July 19, 1933 at Harlem Hospital in New York City. As a young child, she developed strong affection for her parents John and Lula Johnson that not only extended to her brothers Howard, Harold and Alfred, and sister Ellen, but also to people she met along the way. It was easy for her to make friends because she always saw a spark of goodness in everyone, Throughout PS 186M, JHS 164, George Washington High School, and Hunter College, Bernice forged friendships that would last a lifetime.
Bernice’s genuine concern for people led her to a major in pre-social work at Hunter College. After graduation, she became a social investigator, for the New York City Department of Welfare. While getting to know the families and developing an understanding of their needs and problems, she decided that maybe the best way to help was through the children. She wanted to work with them during their formative years and the way to do this was in the schools. She left the Department of Welfare to become a teacher.
Bernice started her teaching career in New York City at PS 144M. She enjoyed everything about her newfound vocation and set out to do the best job she could possibly do. To meet city and state requirements, she went back to Hunter College’s graduate school and earned a Master’s Degree in Education and an Advanced Certificate in Education Supervision and Administration.
This drive to increase her own education was outmatched by her desire to ensure the education of her students. She believed that the education you want for your own children is the same education the schools should provide for all children. She had the ability to look beyond their behavior to see the beautiful human being within. Her pride in her students was evident, and their appreciation for her non-judgmental, no nonsense expectations of greatness was equally apparent. Twenty-five years after retirement the students, parents, and staff still called to say hello and to ask if there was anything they could do for her.
Bernice stayed at PS 144M for more than 30 years—entering as a substitute teacher and leaving as the principal. That, Bernice, was a job well done!
Bernice’s retirement from education in 1993 was only the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Already a keen traveler, retirement gave her more time to explore. Europe, Africa, and many parts of the United States were blessed with her presence. She especially enjoyed summers spent at the family home in Martha’s Vineyard.
An antiques connoisseur and true believer in giving back, Bernice volunteered for over 20 years at Accents on Antiques in Pelham, a nonprofit store benefiting the Sound Shore Hospital Foundation. She was a member of the St. John’s Altar Guild for over 30 years in addition to contributing her money and her time to innumerable charities supporting veterans, children, medical research, and education.
Among the countless family members and friends left to mourn her, Bernice is survived by her brother Harold, sister Ellen, sister-in-law Phyllis Johnson, sister-of-the-heart Ruth Gathers, a host of nieces and nephews, and treasured friends and students who have become family. It is impossible to name them all. Bernice will be remembered most for her big and generous heart—and second for her easy, mischievous laugh (and ability to cheat at cards).
In our family, Bernice had become the matriarch. There was nothing too much or too little for her to do for any of us. She never left us behind. Her smiling face, big heart, sense of humor, and loving spirit will stay with us always.
Our dear Bernice, this is farewell but not goodbye.
Visitation Guidelines & Notes:
SAFETY - Masks must be worn at all times. There is a limit to the number of people who may be in the reception room at the same time. While the family appreciates your love and support, please maintain the appropriate 6-feet social distance and refrain from physical contact inside the building for everyone's safety.
PARKING - There is a public parking lot which can be accessed through the funeral home driveway (Boston Post Road) or from Addison Street (the parallel street); the funeral home's rear entrance can be accessed directly from the parking lot.
DONATE - In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you donate to Calvary Hospital and At-Home Hospice. If you would like to send flowers, arrangements can be delivered to John J. Fox Funeral Home by the afternoon of November 30.
A celebration of the life of Bernice will take place on Zoom on
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 11:00 am.
To attend via Zoom, please use this link:
Meeting ID: 861 7177 4097
The service bulletin is attached to this email.
Visit this website to share memories of Bernice and to read her obituary:
In lieu of sending flowers, the family humbly requests that funds be donated to Calvary Hospital and @ Home Hospice using this link:
May her soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace.