Project Description

Coates: Bernice Irene
April 26, 1926 – January 14, 2020

Bernice Irene Coates was born in the Cereal Hospital April 26, 1926, to Emma and Pete Peterson and was the sixth of seven children. She was raised on a farm three miles north of Chinook and even though there was always work to do, the family was optimistic and made sure there was time for fun. Bernice remembered fondly the family picnics, holiday get-togethers and community gatherings. The importance of this, she passed down to her family.

Bernice attended Chinook School for most of her education. As a young girl she excelled in Chemistry and Writing, enjoyed playing softball, and even played in an orchestra. Music was a big part of Bernice’s life and she learned to play accordion and piano at a young age. As her own family grew, she could often be heard singing or humming a tune in the kitchen or playing a song on the piano.

Bernice married Murray James Coates October 6, 1945, and they moved to the family farm north of Cereal. They had four daughters: Maureen, Donna Mae, Carol and Bernadine. Bernice was pivotal in the operation of the farm, and was still able to focus much attention to her children, where she instilled the importance of education, and spent many hours supporting the school and the events her children were involved in. Bernice was also active in and supported many community organizations such as the Cereal Home & School, Lioness Club, Cereal Golden Center, the UCW and the United Church Choir.

One of Bernice’s strongest attributes was that she was willing to welcome anyone into her home, where it was always filled with warmth, kindness, and of course, food. Christmas and other holidays were always the special times at the farm where Bernice would keep the fridge full of family favorites. She loved to cook and took joy in sharing that passion with others.

Bernice had many other interests which included singing in the church choir, playing her piano and accordion, gardening, and writing. She even wrote her own story, of her life, which was made into a book last year. She also loved spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was always a special time to spend the day with grandma and grandpa at the farm.

Patience was one of her greatest virtues and it was always something she tried to convey to others. She could often be heard saying “Just Be Patient” and would remain forever calm even in the most adverse situations. She also had a great sense of humor. Her quick wit and comical come backs were known to pop out unexpectedly and send everyone around her into fits of giggles.

Bernice moved into the Country Cottages in 2012 and embraced this community of friends as her extended family. Many days were filled with special events, where good memories, fun, and laughter were shared. She was always grateful for the company of the good friends she had there.

Bernice had a strength and determination that were evident throughout her life, especially in her latter years when she dealt with numerous health issues. Despite the challenges she faced, she remained positive and would always make the best of a bad situation, coming through every challenge with grace and dignity. She would often say with a smile, “I will try” or “It could be worse.”

Bernice was predeceased by her husband Murray; parents Emma and Pete Peterson; brothers George, Ed, Cliff, and Ray Peterson; sisters Pearl Shaver and Jean Bryant; and grandson Jayme Duque.

Bernice is lovingly remembered by her children Maureen Coates (Victor Spaetgens), Donna Mae (Carlos) Duque, Carol Coates (Will Humen), Bernadine Coates-Perreault (Mark Perreault); grandchildren Shawn Berthold, David (Shannon) Duque, Cory (Nicole) Duque, Melissa Duque (Josh Stenger), Vanessa Humen, Eli (Heather) Humen, Samuel Perreault, and Jordan Perreault; and her many great-grandchildren.

Bernice was a caring, kind, and gentle soul who lived with great courage and integrity. She will be fondly remembered and loved by the many lives she touched. To all those who were involved in supporting and caring for her, she was eternally grateful and continually expressed how fortunate and blessed she was. Bernice left us the legacy of her gracious spirit, which will live on in our memories.

Funeral Service was held Saturday, January 25, at the Cereal United Church in Cereal, Alberta. Officiating Clergy was Rev. Helen Reed. Elaine Michaels played the accordian and special music was In the Garden and Amazing Grace. A tribute was given by Victor Spaetgens. Pallbearers were Shawn Berthold, David Duque, Samuel Perreault, Jordan Perreault, Melissa Duque, Daryl Shaver, and Cory Duque. Honorary pallbearers were all of Bernice’s family, friends and Homecare workers who cared and shared in her life.

Memorial tributes may be directed to the Cereal United Church, Box 392, Oyen, Alberta, T0J 2J0; or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Following the funeral service, family and friends were invited to a luncheon hosted by the United Church Ladies in the Cereal Seniors Centre.

MacLean’s Funeral Home of Oyen in care of arrangements.