Bernice Patricia Burns Donovan

December 28, 1911February 18, 2014

Bernice Patricia Burns Donovan, 102, of Ames, died Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at Riverside Enrichment Communities North. Visitation will be held Friday, February 21, 2014 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 2210 Lincoln Way, Ames, beginning at 4:30 PM and followed by a vigil at 5:30 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 10:30 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church with burial of cremated remains at St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Cosgrove, Iowa at a later date.

Bernice was born on December 28, 1911 in Iowa City; the daughter of William Alfred and Ellen Beecher Burns. She was a graduate of the University of Iowa and spent time in New York as a writer for the Betty Crocker “magazine of the month.” Bernice married Clifford L. Donovan on May 2, 1964 in Ames. Clifford was a road engineer and they spent long periods together in Alaska. Following Clifford’s death, Bernice taught in the Journalism Department at the University of Iowa. Bernice founded and supported the Burns/Donovan Foundation and was active with the Ames Playmakers where she hosted the group and also enjoyed participating in the plays.

Bernice is survived by various nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, six sisters and one brother.

Memorial contributions should be directed to the Love Your Neighbor Fund at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 2210 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50014. On-line condolences may be expressed at


  • Visitation Friday, February 21, 2014
  • Prayer Vigil Friday, February 21, 2014
  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bernice Patricia Burns Donovan

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Gail Craddock

March 12, 2014

I'd known Bernie since my birth in 1950 as she and my Mother, Theresa Dunne Craddock, were close friends since the 1930's when they were roommates in N.Y.C. Bernie visited us often in Ct. or we connected with her in N.Y.C. and as a teen I visited Bernie in her Ames home (it's still my favorite house in the world). I always remember Bernie as being lively, engaged, and interested in everyone around her including me when I was a teen or my 9 mo. old son when we met for a quick breakfast at a Ct. airport back in the mid-1970s. And back in the mid 1980's she even invited me to join her & some of her and my Mother's oldest & dearest friends when she was visiting Seattle after I'd recently moved there. I only wish I'd realized Bernie was still alive as we'd lost touch in the last ten years or so. My deepest sympathy to Bernie's family at her passing.

Eric Abbott

February 24, 2014

On behalf of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, I want to express our condolences concerning the death of Bernice Burns Donovan, who was an associate professor at Iowa State in what was then the Technical Journalism Department. She was hired in 1956 after serving as food editor for Redbook and food editor at ABC's "Magazine of the Air." She was promoted to associate professor in 1959. I met her in the jungles of Peru in 1966 at a Shipibo Indian Village near Pucalpa. She arrived in a dugout canoe while I was filming the making of local beer by village women. She liked adventure.
Eric Abbott, professor, Greenlee School

John Donaghy

February 22, 2014

Bernice was a woman with a heart for the poor of this world and showed it in many ways. She will be missed.
I knew her from the years I spent on the St. Thomas staff.
I am so glad to read that she asked memorial donations for the St. Thomas Love Your Neighbor Fund which assists the local poor.
May she rest in the loving arms of the God she loved.