Blair: Bernice Mildred
August 7, 1957 – Hanna, Alberta
May 18, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta
Bernice Blair of Calgary died with family and the compassionate staff from Southwood Care Center by her side May 18, 2019, at the age of 61 years.
Bernice (often known as Bernie) was born in Hanna on her Grandma (Bonsor) Blair’s birthday, and hence given the middle name of Mildred. She lived her adolescent years on the farm 10 miles south of Youngstown and attended Grades 1 through 12 at the school in Youngstown.
Bernie excelled in Math and would assist Dad with the farm books. She was usually quicker than all other siblings at tallying up the weights when the cattle were being shipped. Bernie showed her younger sisters how to balance a cheque book, and took the time to play dolls and school even though she had passed well beyond that stage. She loved to cook and bake, and was a huge help to Mom. Bernie’s organizational skills were fantastic, and she was famously known for her ‘lists.’ If she made you a promise, it was documented as a reminder to herself, and most definitely fulfilled. Her last “to do'” list item was “pay Glen $2.00.” Bernie was a very social person who took great interest in the lives of others. A high school boyfriend once commented, “Bernie sure has a lot of friends!”
After high school Bernie moved to Drumheller to work at the Saan Store, and was roomies with Shirley (Kingcott) Friedley. Later she moved to Calgary where she graduated from Henderson’s Business College, and worked as a secretary for Alberta Wheat Pool and then for Chaparral Oilfield Services.
She often held an additional part time job at Capri Steak and Pizza to earn extra money for special trips. Two of her favorites were a 3-week tour of the Maritimes, and the adventurous 6-month trek to Whitehorse and Yellowknife (which she did by herself, with no plans of where she would live or work). She quickly made friends, and found employment as a secretary for the Co-op.
Bernie was a person who would help anyone in need, and saw the good in everyone. She could sense when something was wrong, and cared enough to ask about it. She never left you feeling alone, and would always say “don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.”
She often took holidays throughout the summer to volunteer at Plover Lake Bible Camp and to help with silage making on the family farm. She had a licence, but never owned a car; yet she loved to drive a 3-ton farm truck loaded with silage like there was nothing to it.
During her early twenties, Bernie worked at Andre’s Wines. She would get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get ready for work and catch two different city buses.
This allowed her enough time to have a coffee, read the paper and socialize with her co-workers before her shift. Bernie was a great worker but also was all about the fun. One Sunday she was out tobogganing with friends and fractured her back in several places. She had to be off work for six months, but had such a positive attitude, and made the most of it. After being released from the hospital, but still not cleared for work, she made good use of her time. She organized into albums Mom’s numerous boxes of unlabeled and undated photos. Together with Marj, she babysat her three nieces and nephew, and spent time fishing and bonding with her siblings.
She returned to work at Andres Wines, but her time there was cut short due to a car accident in 1982, at the young age of 25. Even after this severe injury, parts of her personality shone through. Many of her nieces and nephews did not have the privilege of knowing her until after the accident; but they have developed a deep bond with her. She still showed a good sense of humor and being a fighter, her strong will has carried her through these last 36 years.
Bernice is survived by her father Robert Floyd Blair, siblings Charlotte Curtis (David), Brad Blair (Charlene), Jim Blair (Marlene), Ken Blair (Darlene), Marj Heatherington, Thelma Bird (Ian) and by 12 loving nieces and nephews, as well as 24 great-nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her mother Stella Blair May 18, 2007.
Bernie will be dearly missed but we are comforted knowing that she is now free.
Inurnment to take place at a later date.
In living memory of Bernice Blair, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Calgary.
If Bernie could have expressed her gratitude some of the people she would have wanted to thank are: ARBI (Association of the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured) specifically Audrey Morris and Mary Anne Ostapowich; Hanna General Hospital staff; Bernie’s buddies – Brenda Blair, Marguerite Wachowicz, Eileen Kleven, Janie Nelson, Sharon Armstrong Bouchard, Sien Luyendyk, Alanna Anderson; Mary Clarkson; Jane Pittman; Southwood Care Center staff; Family and Friends.
The family would like to thank everyone for your compassion and acts of kindness over the years, and now during this time of loss.