|Birth: ||Mar. 20, 1912|
|Death: ||Nov. 3, 2009|
Bernice Brunner Hills was a remarkable woman who lived a full life filled with faith, family, and love. She was blessed to find the love of a good man not once, but twice, and was even able to share her 25th wedding anniversary with each of them as well. Bernice was an artistic woman who loved sharing her work with those that mattered to her most in her life whether family or friends. She enjoyed traveling and fishing, but her greatest interest was always in spending time with her family and friends. Bernice was such a special woman whose family is surely her greatest legacy.
During a year in which the Titanic sank after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage and Woodrow Wilson beat out both former President Theodore Roosevelt and incumbent President William Howard Taft for the presidency, 1912 was certainly a year for the record books. It was a year of great significance as well for Bassnett and Theresa (Zettle) Vincent of Jennings, Michigan as they were celebrating the birth of their daughter, Bernice Mary, on March 20th. Bernice was the third of seven children in her family and was raised in Lake City during her younger years. Her father worked in a lumber mill while her mother was a homemaker until finding work in a restaurant after the death of her husband. During the thirties the Great Depression firmly held our nation in its grip and it was consequently hard to make ends meet in the Vincent household with nine people to provide for. They did what they could to survive though and Bernice helped her mother make the children's clothing since she loved to sew. Bernice attended Lake City Elementary until her family moved to Grand Rapids where she attended Union High School thru the ninth grade.
Like so many other young people of this generation, Bernice then entered the workforce when she was just 15. She found work at Globe Knitting Works where she met a certain co-worker who would forever change the course of Bernice's life. His name was Henry Brunner and the two eventually began a dating relationship. After dating for several months, their romance had blossomed into true love and they desired to elope. While on their way, their car got hit by a train, but that didn't foil the couple's plans. They then borrowed her father's car and continued on to Bristol, Indiana where they were married on June 19, 1930 when Bernice was 18 and Henry was 24.
Once back in Grand Rapids the couple settled into a home on Long Street in Grandville. From there they rented several homes until they finally bought a home in Comstock Park where they raised their children, Sally, Richard, Kurt, Walter, and Alma. . During the early years of their marriage times were still tough due to the depression and so both Bernice and Henry still worked at Globe Knitting Works - each trading off with two days of working and two days of caring for their children. Bernices later got a job with American Seating where she worked until she retired after 22 years.
Although working certainly kept both parents busy, they always made a point of creating special family times together too. They were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church and their children also attended school there until they moved on to Comstock Park High School. The Brunner family also took summer vacations together, usually to visit Bernice's parents in Lake City or Henry's brother in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They also had a cottage on Perch Lake where Bernice enjoyed fishing.
Life unexpectedly changed for Bernice and her children in 1964 when Henry died of heart failure when he was just 60 years old. Although she was deeply saddened, Bernice continued on with her life sustained by both her faith and the love of her family. She continued to live in Comstock Park for the next couple of years and she also continued her work as a sewer at American Seating Company where she worked for a total of 22 years until she retired at the age of 60. A couple of years after Henry's death Bernice became reacquainted with a friend she babysat for as a girl, Harold Hills. He was a widower with grown children and the two began dating, fell in love, and were married on May 14, 1966.
Bernice and Harold moved to Elmer Street NW and enjoyed doing a lot of traveling together including taking several fishing trips. She and Harold also spent their winters in Zephyr Hills, Florida for 27 years. They enjoyed several years of marriage together until Harold died in 1993. Bernice continued living in their home until she moved to Lincoln Square Apartments where she loved living within a retirement community and made many new friends. She went several places with family and friends, was socially active, and continued driving until a few years ago.
Throughout her life there were some interests that Bernice enjoyed. She loved to can both fruits and vegetables and jams and jellies, usually from the goods she grew in her garden. Bernice also loved to crochet, knit, and do needlepoint, often making many gifts for family and friends. She taught herself ceramics and even owned her own kiln which she used to make figurines, bowls, cups, and other projects as well.
For many years Bernice suffered from her own heart problems, as well as from macular degeneration which eventually led her to lose her ability to drive.
Bernice Brunner Hills was a lovely woman who was treasured by so many. She loved sharing her love and her talents with those in her life, each a token of her tender heart. Bernice possessed a vibrant faith that brought her both joy and strength when her days became more challenging. Although she enjoyed traveling, Bernice always loved returning home to be once again reunited with her loved ones. She will be dearly missed by all those she leaves behind.
Bernice Mary Brunner Hills of Grand Rapids died on Tuesday morning, November 3, 2009 at her home. Bernice's family includes her children, Sally Thelen, Kurt (Diane) Brunner, Walter (Gloria) Brunner, Alma (Ronald) Verner; 13 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren; her sister, Lillian Woods; step children, Carolyn (Leon) Fulcher, Fred (Virginia) Hills; many nieces, nephews, step-grandchildren, step-great grandchildren and step-great great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by two husbands, Henry Brunner and Harold Hills; her son Richard Brunner and grandson Timothy Brunner; great grandson Blake Ahlquist; her brothers Howard and Lewis, and sisters Leona, Nellie and Jane. A service to celebrate Bernice's life will be held on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut – Grand Rapids, MI, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW with Rev. Jonathan Krenz of Epiphany Lutheran Church officiating. Visitation will be held at the funeral home on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m., and on Friday from 10 a.m. until the service begins. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or sign her guestbook.
Bassnett Dell Vincent (1875 - 1952)
Theresa Mary Zettel Vincent (1887 - 1983)
Henry Brunner (1904 - 1964)
Harold Leroy Hills (1905 - 1993)
Richard Henry Brunner (1936 - 2006)*
Leona Theresa Vincent Sawyer (1909 - 1999)*
Bernice Mary Vincent Brunner-Hills (1912 - 2009)
Lewis Peter Vincent (1914 - 1995)*
Nellie T. Vincent Sellers (1918 - 2002)*
Sarah Jane Vincent Jozwiak (1921 - 1987)*
Rosedale Memorial Park
Created by: Melissa Oliver
Record added: Nov 03, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 43903307