Bernice Doyle McCandless

April 24, 1937January 14, 2014
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76, passed away peacefully after a valiant fight against breast cancer on January 14, 2014 in Conifer, CO. Born April 24, 1937 in Rahway, New Jersey to Charles and Jeanette Doyle. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Bruce McCandless II, son Bruce (Patricia) McCandless III, daughter Tracy McCandless, sister Janet (Hop) Ritter, brother Charles (Sue) Doyle, granddaughters Emma Rose McCandless and Carson Clare McCandless. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Virginia Stamets, and half brother Forrest Doyle. Celebration of Life Service Saturday, January 25, 2014, 1pm, St. Laurence Episcopal Church, 26812 Barkley Rd., Conifer, CO 80433. Funeral services will be on Monday February 3, 2014, 11am at the United States Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, MD. Interment to follow at United States Naval Academy Cemetery. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24.


Bernice ("Bernie”) Doyle was born on April 24th, 1937, in Rahway, New Jersey to Charles Doyle, a foreman at the Singer Sewing Machine Plant in Roselle, and his young wife, Jeanette Heyns. The family lived in the New Jersey countryside for a while, giving Bernie the opportunity to raise a calf, and likely kindling her life-long interest in horses and other animals. She attended Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, graduating in the Class of 1955. While her father was dying of prostate cancer, she lived with relatives in Modesto, California. Subsequently she attended Baldwin-Wallace College (now University) in Berea, Ohio, and worked as a laboratory technician at Schering Pharmaceuticals in Elmora, NJ. Staying with her sister Janet's family in Memphis, TN, Bernie attended Memphis State University and worked as a lab tech in a local teaching hospital. While living in Memphis she met Bruce McCandless II, then a newly-minted Naval Aviator taking courses at the nearby Naval Air Station. Four months later, on August 6, 1960, they were married in the Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis, MD. Assuming the burdens of the life of a Navy wife, Bernie relocated briefly with Bruce to Key West, FL, and then resided for a longer period in Virginia Beach, VA, where Bruce was stationed as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 102. Their son, Bruce III, was born in Annapolis on August 15, 1961. 18 months afterward, and while pregnant with their daughter, Tracy, Bernie toured the Mediterranean Region, meeting her husband at various ports of call. In the late spring of 1964 the family moved to Mountain View, CA, where Bruce attended Stanford University under Navy auspices. He was selected in early 1966 for NASA's Apollo Astronaut Program, and the family moved again – this time to the Houston area, where they built a house in El Lago, a Houston suburb, and lived there for 27 years. Bernie raised Bruce III and Tracy, worked for several years as a medical laboratory technician at Danforth Hospital in Texas City, completed her college education, and subsequently worked at the Exxon Research Laboratory in Baytown. After Bruce made two space flights aboard the Space Shuttle and retired from the Navy, he took a position with the then-Martin Marietta Aerospace Group in Waterton, CO, and the couple relocated to nearby Conifer. They bought a modest cabin with acreage and built a barn, so that Bernie could finally realize her dream of being able to keep horses at home. From their base in Conifer, Bruce and Bernie made excursions to assorted "exotic" locales, including Costa Rica, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Scotland, the Sea of Cortez, Canada, etc. With her sister Janet, Bernie attended numerous Elderhostels and became an accomplished watercolorist. Bernie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. At that time she had a "lumpectomy," radiation treatment, and mild chemotherapy. For about ten years everything appeared fine, then the cancer reappeared—this time in her bones. The result was a prolonged battle, using chemotherapy and a visit to the MD Anderson Clinic in Houston. Unfortunately, nobody these days is ever actually cured of breast cancer. Bernie fought tenaciously, but the illness never completely went away. On the evening of January 14th, 2014, she died peacefully, in her sleep, next to her husband. She is survived by her husband, Capt. Bruce McCandless II, US Navy (ret.), and her grown children, Bruce McCandless III and his wife, Patricia Fuller McCandless, of Austin, TX, and Tracy McCandless of Conifer, CO , two granddaughters, Emma Rose and Carson Clare McCandless of Austin, TX, her sister, Janet (Hop) Ritter, of Cortez, CO, and her brother, Charles (Sue) Doyle, of Milton, FL. She was predeceased by her sister, Virginia Stamets, and her half-brother Forrest Edward Doyle. Names and dates can provide an outline of a life, but not its colors or its character. Our Bernie was a beautiful, compassionate woman who made friends wherever she went. We thank God for her smile, for her warmth, and for the blessings He gave all of us through her. She will never be forgotten. As Bernie liked to say, quoting Psalm 118, This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

In lieu of flowers her family has requested the following; Donate a print of blood in her memory, or make a memorial contribution in her name to one of the following organizations; Evergreen Animal Protection League, P.O. Box 2517, Evergreen, CO 80437,, or National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., 2600 Network Blvd., Suite 300, Frisco, TX 75034,


  • Celebration of Life Service Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bernice Doyle McCandless

have a memory or condolence to add?

Dee Oke

February 24, 2014

Bruce and family,
Cherish all the good memories you have. I think of Bernice at the Houston Audubon meeting. Dee Ross Oke, Houston, Texas

February 19, 2014

Dear Bruce and Family,

We were so sorry to hear about Bernice. We feel sure that you had family and many friends out there for support and comfort. None the less, belatedly, all of you are in our prayers as you deal with this great loss. Again, please accept our late feelings and sorrow in these trying times for the family.

Bitsy and Goose Ganter

Teri Sprague

February 12, 2014

Bruce, I was saddened to hear about the death of your wife Bernice. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Natalie Ong

January 27, 2014

Dear Bruce. . . Al and I are sorry to hear of Bernice's death. I remember her always friendly smile, her laugh and her love for her community and the horses. We send our love and condolences. . . In friendship and sympathy, Natalie and Albert Ong (407 Willow Vista, El Lago, TX)

Janet Shown

January 25, 2014

Marsha and I will always hold dear the memory of Bernice's sweet smile, gentle nature, and enjoyment of laughter. She lived her love and shared it with so many of us.

January 25, 2014

Dear Bruce, I didn't really know your mom, but they say the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. So I know she must have been an absolutely killer fantastic interesting generous lovable person. She surely had one of the great smiles. jeanette scott

Patty Benard-Lee

January 24, 2014

Getting to know Bernice was a joy. My heart goes out to Bruce and her family. Hers was a life well lived.

Barbara Ciechacki

January 22, 2014

I was very saddened to learn of the death of Bernice. Please accept my deepest sympathy.
Even though it has been a long time since I last saw her at the 50th reunion of our class, and so many years since we attended high school together in Roselle, NJ, I remember well her sweetness and beautiful smile. She was a very special person.

Barbara Ciechacki

ruthie hawley

January 22, 2014

Dear Bruce and family: Bernie was my friend for 65 years; even though we were busy with family and work we kept in touch. The last two trips to Tucson and Coeur d Alene are the memories I'll keep forever. I'll miss her very much and her beautiful smile.

Bob Nielsen

January 21, 2014

Bernie was a high school classmate in Roselle, N.J. Friendly, attractive ,smart. A joy to be around. Condolences to her whole family.

Bob Nielsen, Tampa Florida