Bernice Alice Testa
December 13, 1928 – July 20, 2013
Mom was brought into the world in Cement, OK on December 13, 1928 by her devoted and ever so gracious mother, Bertha Betty (Morris) Bernhardt. She was named Bernice Alice Bernhardt after her beloved "Granny", Alice Rhodie Anderson. Grandma Bertha had given birth to mom's only sibling, her brother Luelyn Kenneth Bernhardt a year earlier, and they grew up as children and family of the infamous 'Dust Bowl' era.
As a toddler, Mom and family moved to Plainview, TX, where she started school early, typically, as a six year old 1st grader at Lamar Elementary School. There were so many stories that seem to be told through the many pictures mom kept of her friends who played together during those very hard times when families had little to live on other than devotion to their parents, friends, and families. After ten or so years, mom and family moved to Albuquerque, NM to find a better life where her dad could find work.
It's so important that mom's mother, Bertha Betty Bernhardt, is given all the credit for raising not only her two children, but essentially all of her other twelve siblings, as what 'grandma Bert' did was look after her daughter Bernice's aunts and uncles as the ultimate example of selfless care giving, tolerance, and unconditional compassion. Grandma passed all this along to mom, and Bernice's life embodied all that her mother's did - for those of you who knew Bertha, you would surely agree. Mom was all the class that her own mom was, and we are all so lucky because of such.
Bernice moved with family after a number of years to California, settling first in Dos Palos and subsequently to Merced. Grandma Bertha's work for many years at Tiny's Waffle Shop and the Pine Cone Restaurant led to Bernice taking on similar service. Everyone knows mom prepared wonderful dishes like no one else, other than her own mother. Mom attended Merced High School and graduated in 1948. She always enjoyed attending the class reunions. Everyone knew she dressed "to the nines" at all times, throughout her school years, work years, retirement years, and we all so loved seeing her wear her animal prints and western-style clothing she dry-cleaned often even when they didn't need to be cleaned.
When mom met Charlie E. Testa, a perfect love story began. Dad and mom loved each other so much, and in a quiet way, continued their sweet and loving relationship until the very end of mom's life, when dad knew her passing was inevitable and her time on earth had come to an end. Dad built their first house directly across from the Italo-American Lodge with his two brothers, Adolph G. Testa, who passed into heaven last September, and Andy Testa, now 95 and going strong, alongside their father Dominic Testa. Dominic, who so enjoyed teasing his soon to be daughter-in-law, as the stories go, loved Bernice so much. Bernice and Charlie were married in Reno, Nevada on April 1, 1950, as it was a major priority for them to be married prior to the elder Mr. Testa's passing later that year. Dad and his brother's mother, Chelestina (Cuneo) Testa, was so pleased that Bernice took her youngest son's hand in marriage and gave birth to her three devoted grandson's, Kenneth, James, and Steven.
Mom's son's were so devoted and loved their mother more than any son could. They gave their energy and love to her in so many countless ways. We were all so blessed to have what simply can't be described in words, but we knew and will always remember, we had the BEST mom any child could ever wish for . . . we learned from mom at the very end of her long and blessed life that she brought us together, as only mom's can, by being our mom and teaching us how to behave and treat one another, even after she could not open her eyes or speak to us any longer. We loved and love her so much, and will miss her so deeply, yet we know we will see her once again in heaven with grandma, all the aunts and uncles, and the rest of our families when our time comes.
Mom had countless friends, and a few were simply precious to her. Jimmy Anderegg, one of dad’s most devoted friends and long-time deer/elk hunting buddies, brought mom fruit salad (thank you Viola) to her 80th birthday party in 2008, but he always brought mom top-cabin class treatment. Anita Fredrickson and Bev Garrett were two of mom’s closest friends from the County Auditor’s Office, from which she retired in 1989 after earning over 40 years of service credit. Leroy Gilsdorf was more than the County Auditor then, but a lifelong friend and admirer of mom. So many memories exist of how mom was a classy employee and servant to the residents of Merced County, most who she never knew but who she attended to their best interests. Mom always referred to the Merced Courthouse as "My Courthouse" . . . she loved that old building and embodied its impeccable charm each day. Mom's deviled eggs were the best, her service on the Merced County Elections Board, catering all the Maltas' Shack festivities, and selling tickets from 'Window #1" at the Merced County Fair for many years are just a glimpse of all that was so special about mom.
Some of the most memorable moments of her life included mom’s 80th birthday surprise party, where over 85 friends and family members came to see mom’s cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat demeanor. Mom's retirement ceremony was simply another cherished moment. Mom was so proud to be a part of Bernie Bernardi's catering service, and countless events at private homes, Lake Yosemite, the Golf Course, and other venues turned out so nicely and were enjoyed by so many due to mom's careful attention to detail, quality, and her effervescent personality. She was a beautiful lady both inside and out, indeed.
Dad visited the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery on 11-11-11 and at that time decided he wanted to be buried there with other US veterans and their spouses. Mom knew dad was impressed with the dignified and sacred grounds, and she was always so proud of dad for his honorable service in the US Army's 4th Infantry Division and front-line battle experiences during WWII, his Bronze Star decoration, but more than anything, of his devotion to her and their three sons. Mom and dad will always be together.
Bernice is survived by her devoted and loving husband of 63 years, Charlie Edward Testa; their oldest son, Kenneth (Diane); their daughters, Jennifer Pair (fiancé Tony Bonsell) and Ashley (Todd) Burk; their daughter, Addison; middle son, James (Cathy); their children, Kayla, Lacy, and Zachary; youngest son, Steven Donald; his son, Steven (Erin); their children, Penelope and soon-to-be-born Testa namesake Jude; daughter, Amanda (Dallas) Kelly; and their daughters, Lily and Madison; her devoted niece, Becky (Bob) Williamson; sister in laws, Jeronima (Lopez) Testa and Stella (Rizzonelli) Testa; brother in law, Andrew; aunt, Dorthy Cope of Lake Havasu, Az.; uncle, George Morris of Turlock; and her latest kitty, 'Hunkey Dorey'.
A public viewing will take place on Thursday, July 25th from 2pm-7pm at Stratford Evans Funeral Home, 1490 B Street, Merced, CA 95341. Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 26th at 10am at Stratford Evans Funeral Home. Following services, family and friends are invited to the house to celebrate Bea's wonderful life. She will be buried at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery on Monday, July 29th at 10:30am.
The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to all those who cared for, loved, and looked after Bernice's best interests until the very end of her truly remarkable life. You all know who you are and we thank you very very much. The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to all those who cared for, loved, and looked after Bernice's best interests until the very end of her truly remarkable life. You all know who you are and we thank you very very much.
- Visitation Thursday, July 25, 2013
- Funeral Service Friday, July 26, 2013
Bernice Alice Testa
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July 30, 2013
sorry for your loss Testa family. God Bless y'all...
Love Missy and family
July 30, 2013
My mother, Sandra Arnold, worked with Bea for years at the County. She loved her dearly...along with all of the wonderful people my mother and Bea were blessed to work with and call "friend". I know they loved "ladies night out" when they would go out on the town to have a nice dinner, drinks, and lots of laughs. Bea was absolutely hilarious! She was the life of the party and will live the hearts of many, many people for years to come.
Stratford Evans Funeral Chapel
July 25, 2013
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
July 23, 2013
Tamara and I wish to offer our deepest condolences, prayers and well wishes for Bernice and to the entire Testa family.
May she Rest In Peace.