Bernice Schwindt, 89, formerly of Morrill, entered into the presence of our Lord Jesus on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at her home in San Marcos, California. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at Monument Bible Church in Scottsbluff with Pastor Jake Roberts officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Morrill. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at Jones Mortuary in Mitchell. Memorials may be made to Voice of the Martyrs, Compassion International or Seaport Hospice.
Bernice was born June 22, 1929 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Fred and Eva “Effie” (Weinmaster) Hankel. The family moved to western Nebraska in 1930 where she later attended school at Huntley, Morrill and Lyman. Bernice graduated from Lyman High School in 1946. She obtained her teaching credential, and taught country school for a year. During that time she and a couple of girlfriends picked up three guys trying to thumb a ride from Morrill to Mitchell. One of them was a dapper young man named John Schwindt.
Bernice and John married on August 29, 1948 in Mitchell, and to this union three children were born: Kathryn Ann, Jerry Dean, and Suzanne Marie. She and John farmed and raised cattle for most of their married life throughout the Platte Valley, before purchasing their own farm south of Mitchell.
Bernice was very active in the Morrill Berean church where she taught Sunday school for many years. Every Sunday morning Bernice could be seen driving like her hair was on fire while simultaneously giving Suzanne a spit bath in the front seat. Her children lost many a beloved animal on those mornings, because they just couldn’t move out of the way fast enough.
When her youngest daughter, Suzanne, started attending AWANA, she served as an AWANA leader. Bernice strived to set an example for the children she taught. She worked three years to complete the same scripture memory verses and club activities as her students, and earned the Timothy Award/trophy. Shortly after her mom passed away in 1987, Bernice started attending Monument Bible Church with her son, Jerry, and his family.
At the age of 60, Bernice returned to college to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Bernice worked as a LPN at The Residency and Northfield before retiring in 1999.
Bernice was an avid card player, and was quite involved in various Bridge and Pinochle clubs around town. She never turned down a friendly game with her family either. We often times warned friends not to be deceived, because that meek fluffy looking lamb was really a wolf waiting for the opportunity to school them in cards. On less active days, she enjoyed crocheting and embroidering until arthritis in her thumbs made those activities too difficult. She then discovered the joy of swimming, and could be found in the nearest warm therapy pool 2-3 times per week.
Bernice also enjoyed traveling. Every winter she would fly to San Diego, CA to be with her youngest daughter, Suzanne. They would frequently take road trips to visit friends and family in Las Vegas, Pheonix, Palm Springs, and her beloved sisters – Donna and Dorothy in Florida. If she wasn’t traveling to visit her sisters (a.k.a. the traveling Grannies), they would come to San Diego to see her.
In 2007, she chose not to return to Nebraska after wintering in San Diego. When Bernice graduated from nursing school, she swore she’d never go back to school again. However, God had different plans. In January 2008, Bernice joined her daughter, Suzanne, in a year-long ministry and discipleship program at the Horizon School of Evangelism (HSE). She was the oldest person to ever complete the program, and would often times remind people that even Moses didn’t start his ministry until he was 80! Bernice and 115 other classmates embarked on a three week “Love Out Loud” tour driving from San Diego to Washington, D.C. performing various community outreaches along the way. She also spent five days on Catalina Island camping with her classmates, and studying the word of God for five days in Mammoth. Bernice was never one to turn down an adventure!
After completing the program, Bernice actively participated in the women’s group at The Mission Church in Encinitas. She loved visiting the elderly in the local nursing homes, and did so until her health began to decline.
Bernice wanted the following poem by Elizabeth Clark to be included in her obituary:
Blessed are they who understand my faltering step and shaking hand.
Blessed, who know my ears today must strain to catch the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know my eyes are dim, and my mind is slow.
Blessed are they who looked away I spilled my tea on the cloth that day!
Blessed are they who, with cheery smile, stopped to chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who know the way to bring back memories of yesterday.
Blessed are they who never say, “You’ve told that story twice today!”
Blessed are they who make it known that I’m loved, respected, and not alone.
And blessed are they who ease the days of my journey home, in loving ways.
The family would like to thank Scripps Memorial La Jolla hospital, her cardiologist, Dr. Douglas Triffon, and Bernice’s favorite nurse, Roberta Nevarez, and her internist, Dr. Melissa Wolinski, for the amazing care they provided her during her 11 year stay in California. We would also like to thank the amazing staff of Seaport Hospice for their assistance and care during a most difficult season.
Survivors include her children, Kathryn (Gene) Percival of Worchester, MA, Jerry (Shawn) Schwindt of Wiggins, CO, and Suzanne Jensen and special family friend, Rodger Fosbinder of San Marcos, CA; grandchildren, Matthew Holzemer of Las Vegas, NV, Sarah Holzemer of Truckee, CA, Tammy (Russ) Coffey of York, NE, David Schwindt of Omaha, NE, Katelyn Schwindt of Oceanside, CA and Nicole and Brianna Virgil of Wiggins, CO; great grandchildren, Ryne Mierau, Hayden Mierau, Michael Holzemer, Ashley Schwindt, Zachary Schwindt, Madelyn Schwindt, and Grace Bongiorno; sisters, Dorothy Schwanke of Williamsport, PA and Donna Smith of Cortland, NY; along with numerous extended family members.
Bernice was preceded in death by her parents; husband, John; niece, Linda Hankel; nephew, Keith Smith; brother, Fred Hankel Jr.; and beloved aunt and uncle, Elizabeth and Manual Weinmaster.