Bernice Lillian Sims, the world’s oldest kid-at-heart and eternal optimist, passed away May 31, 2017, at Bethany on University. She left this earth after forever brightening the lives of others. Bernice loved to laugh and have fun, and often said people were too serious. She would want to make your day through an inspirational story rather than a somber epitaph.
Bernice was born on July 15, 1927, on the family farm near East Grand Forks, MN, and graduated from Alvarado Public School in 1945. She completed one year at the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, MN, where her claim to fame was clinching the ping-pong championship as the underdog.
On April 12, 1947, she met her husband to be, Pershing E. Sims, at an Eagles dance in East Grand Forks. Pershing and Bernice danced the night away; he would not let her dance with anyone else! She described Pershing as the “kindest man ever” and he nicknamed her “Sparky” to mirror her bubbly personality and endless energy. They married on Sept. 16, 1947, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Tabor, MN. They farmed for three years, moved to Fargo in 1951, and later moved to Wahpeton, where they resided until 1963. The family moved to Enderlin and lived there until 1983, when the couple retired to Fargo. Pershing died in 1999 after a wonderful 52-year marriage.
After only ten piano lessons as a child, Bernice went on to become a self-taught musician. Her children remember her late-night “concerts” after they were tucked into bed; the only rare minutes she had to herself.
Motherhood came easy to Bernice because of her boundless love and easy-going nature. Later in life, when her children confessed of their earlier mischief, she merely said, “Oh you silly kids.” Bernice’s answer to most disappointments or losses was always, “Well, at least nobody got hurt.” This treasured saying has become the family’s mantra. Bernice taught her nine children the meaning of togetherness and the joy of laughter.
Bernice loved to play cards, especially pinochle. When her grown children came home for weekend visits, Bernice was the last one to bed, always ready for “one more hand.” When the crew stumbled out of bed in the morning, she already had chicken and rice in the oven for Sunday dinner. How the woman existed on so little sleep is a miracle.
Picking up the phone to her calls, you were often greeted with the song, “Because of you, there’s a song in my heart.” Either that or she’d ask if you had solved the Jumble in the newspaper each day. Only a few people would play Scrabble with her because she’d plunk down “zither” on the last play.
In Fargo she and Pershing had a daycare business. She also worked for Hospice, Kelly Services, and American Cancer Society. She often said the most loving gift you can give anyone is your time. For over 20 years in retirement, Bernice played “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and other classics on the piano as a volunteer at area nursing homes. When she became a Bethany resident in 2013, she was the self-appointed goodwill ambassador, waving and smiling at everyone. Bethany staff treated Bernice like family, and her children are deeply grateful for their love and kindness.
God and family were the center of her life, and her effervescent personality had a lasting effect on those she touched.
Forever grateful are her children, Rodger Sims (deceased), and his wife Bonnie, Fargo; Philip Sims, Fargo; Marilyn (Jim) Kram, Fargo; Ken (Vickie) Sims, Moorhead; Patricia (Allen) Kukert, Moorhead; Dan (Shari) Sims, Grasston, Minn., Janet (John) Klocke, Fargo; Lori Sims (Vern Dosmann), Sarasota, Fla.; Lynae Sims (Mike), Moorhead; 26 grandchildren, and 41 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 pm with a prayer service at 7:00 pm on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center, Fargo. The funeral mass will be at 10:00 am on Monday, June 5, 2017 at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Fargo. Bernice’s final gift is to donate her body to the UND medical school, so there will be a private burial at a later date. In lieu of flowers — be kind to others, be happy and count your blessings – Bernice would have wanted that. And if you don’t already know the game, for goodness sake, learn how to play pinochle.