Bernice Lee

bernice lee
Another of the “Great Depression” era farm kids went to sleep for the last time. Bernice rode her childhood pony, Ted, off into the sunset on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 at Bethany on 42nd Retirement Living in Fargo. With Bernice’s deep faith she was ready to leave Earth to be with Jesus and free of pain. Free at last. Bernice Michelson was born to Philip and Minnie Michelson on August 7, 1926 at the family farm near Martin, ND. She was the only girl of 4 older and 2 younger brothers. Bernice often told of the frequent teasing by all of them, yet cherishing them all. Despite the extreme hardship on the farm during the “Dirty 30s,” Bernice told that she wouldn’t have traded her growing up years for anywhere else. After graduation from Martin High School in 1944, Bernice obtained a teaching certificate from Pierce County, ND. She taught for a short time at a country school. While employed at the NW Bell Telephone Company in Harvey, she met a co-worker’s brother who had returned from the service. Bernice married Julean Lee on April 6, 1947. They got a taste of “big city” life in Kansas City, MO in the late 1940s while Julean attended trade school and Bernice was employed at SW Bell as a switchboard operator. With their return to this area, Bernice was a switchboard operator at the Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead until 1956. She then devoted her life to homemaking and providing home daycare until 1973. Once again, the switchboard called Bernice to St. Luke’s Hospital (now Sanford) in Fargo until her retirement in 1991. She and Julean enjoyed many senior vacation trips throughout much of the US and part of Canada. In 2003, Bernice lost her beloved Julean but remained in their home until 2012 when she became a resident of Bethany on 42nd. She felt very blessed to reside where there is such a kind and caring staff. Bernice was preceded in death by her brothers, Ruben (Violet), August (Ruth), Edwin (Verna), Hilmer (Betty), Clifford, and Roland. She is survived by her son, Brian (Edie), Fargo, daughter, Brenda (Tim) Schwanke, Grey Eagle, MN, grandson, Jared (Brianna) Lee, St. Louis Park, MN. Also surviving Bernice are sisters-in-law, Lois Michelson, Woodburn, OR, Bonnie McKinley, Vancouver, WA, Susan Lee, Seattle, WA, Martha Lee, Fargo, Shirley Disher, Seattle, and brother-in-law, Richard (Nancy) Lee, Gully, MN, step-grandchildren, Arien Schwanke, Grand Portage, CO, Aubrey (Chuck) Matteson, Sparks, NV, Lacy (fiancé Adam Townsend) Masog, Big Lake, MN, step great-grandchild, Greysen Townsend, Big Lake, MN  and many nieces and nephews. Bernice’s family would like to express sincere appreciation and thanks to the staff at Bethany on 42nd for the kind support and friendship shown to her the entire time she was a resident. You brought her much happiness and we are grateful. Funeral Service: 10:00 A.M. Thursday, April 20, 2017 at the Larsen Chapel at Bethany on 42nd, Fargo with visitation starting at 9:00 A.M.

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  1. Many fond memories of Bernice! She will be missed by many. Along with her story telling and many jokes. I wish I could make her Taco Pie one more time. Thinking of you all! Hold on to your memories she was one of a kind. Take care.

  2. Bernice was a beautiful lady. She became a second Mom to our first born daughter in 1968 and has remained in our thoughts and prayers. Bernice and Julean set a great example of love and caring for our family.

  3. Bernice certainly was a unique and happy soul. Always smiling and usually up to something. After my father (her brother Hilmer) died she and Julean took my mother by the hand and helped her along her difficult path in countless ways. Bernice was a go-getter with a huge heart. I never left her without having at least one good belly laugh. She will be greatly missed.

  4. I so appreciated meeting & taking care of Bernice while working at Bethany on 42nd. She will always be a one of a kind lady. Prayers to her family whom some of them I got to know while she was at Bethany. She has now joined many that she knew her on earth. God bless you, Bernice.

  5. Brian, Edie, Jared, Brianna, Brenda, and Tim. Prayers and thoughts are with you during this time. Bernice was one of a kind. She will be missed.

  6. I will miss very much listening to the conversations between Bernice and Gladys when they were able to talk to each other on the phone. What a pair.

  7. She is the last of “Pepple” cousins. We lived just s few blocks from her and Julian. Spend not enough time together. But the times we had were awesome. Great cook too. We now spend our winters in Sun City and Bismarck.
    May the Lord give you all comfort and peace.

  8. Bernice was one of a kind when I took care of her at Bethany she always told me smiles and giggles!! When she walked into a room she would smile and say how happy she was that we all were taking such good care of her! Bernice ur an angel now! Fly high!! God bless you and your with Jesus now!

  9. Our dearest Bernice ~ you will be missed by so many! Your love, friendship and hospitality helped me through so much over the years. First at St Luke’s Hospital as a co-worker, then so many, many times as she and Juleen opened their home to me, and frequently were my salvation when little emergencies happened, since my own parents weren’t in town.
    I’m sure that she and Juleen are having a toddie, catching up on our shenanigans and having a good laugh. We were all blessed to have such a wonderful, special lady in our lives; our hearts and prayers go out to all of you.

  10. Bernice and Julean are Classics!

    I thought Bernice was special to just me! How could I be so foolish? She was a warm, funny, down-to-earth lady loved by all. Last time I saw Bernice in her home, she let me page through some family scrapbooks. She said to me, “You have your dad’s hands!” I didn’t know! Now, I look at my hands and remember both my dad and his only sister, Bernice.

  11. Wonderful people – Bernice and Julean! Our first home together was the apartment in their basement on 12th St. We have good memories and were graced to know them. Our sympathies to all.

  12. Bernice always brought joy with her visits. I am so thankful for her and juleane and what a “special” adopted mom and dad they’ve been to my sister!!! Prayers of comfort to all who have been blessed by Bernice.

  13. I will miss her very much! She was a wonderful Aunt. I cherished our Bethany visits…what memories.


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