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 Berta Jane <I>Gavette</I> Mckenzie

Berta Jane Gavette Mckenzie

Death 26 Oct 2012 (aged 88)
Burial Hamden, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
Memorial ID 100094854 · View Source
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We all knew Berta as a strong and independent woman, who loved her family deeply. She learned these traits from her mother Viola Gavette. When Berta was only three her mother was left alone to raise seven children in Wallingford, Ct. Those were difficult times but Viola worked hard to keep them all together. She became Berta's role model - demonstrating strength of character, dedication to faith, and caring for others. But above all a commitment to raising her children.Berta was shaped by that experience, which gave her the courage to leave home and go to college and later to move from the comfort of a close knit family to make a life for her own family in another state. In many ways Berta was an extraordinary and contemporary woman in the very traditional time after World War II.She graduated from the Nursing school in Bridgeport, CT as a Registered Nurse and joined the Nurse Cadet Core. One of her first adventures was to travel to Arizona by train to work on a Navajo Indian Reservation in 1944 and 1945. Her realization that all people were children of God firmly established itself and she went on to pursue her passion as a Nursing professional for over 40 years. She did so in a variety of challenging and rewarding roles such as an emergency room RN and as a Supervisor of Nursing at a Drug Rehabilitation Center. She even served as a RN in the New York State Correctional system, including at the Attica maximum security prison right after the riots in 1971.Berta lived a full and colorful life, with travel and adventures too numerous to relate here, but each one catalogued in her collection of writings, and marked by new friends she made everywhere she wandered. Berta's strength of character and independence was clearly evident in her commitment to raising her own family of 3 children, - sometimes even seeming stubborn in her approach – but sacrificing and doing it alone during difficult times. But she found peace in her faith community. Where ever she lived, much of her strength came from her church connection. And along the way she enjoyed many wonderful friends and supportive congregations, including this one.She was a dedicated mother, always trying to challenge her children to be everything they could be, to pursue their dreams. But she did not encourage them to conform to a certain mode. As a result, three very different and unique individuals evolved and grew into people that she had enormous pride in.When as a young child little Bonnie had to undergo polio treatments at the hospital and then at home on the kitchen table, Berta always found time for Jim and Jeff while supporting Bonnie fully during that traumatic time for the family (fortunately Bonnie recovered). When Jim tried to downplay his studies to focus on sports, Berta went to his school and raised you know what - resulting in changed priorities for Jim, as well as his teachers and coaches (Jim earned both a sports scholarship and his Bachelor of Science degree). When Jeff suffered bitter disappointment from insensitive school administrators, Berta charged in and straightened it out so that others would not have to endure a similar fate, while encouraging Jeff to stay engaged in his education (Jeff earned a degree and now teaches English in Austria).When Bonnie decide to get married during Christmas break of her senior year of college, Berta made sure the family traveled through a foot of newly fallen snow to celebrate. And she never stopped encouraging Bonnie to continue her education (Bonnie eventually earned her PHD). When Jim decided to go to college in Illinois four states from home, Berta packed up the blue Volkswagen station wagon to the roof and drove out there and back. When Jeff decided to pursue a dream of a cross country bike trip, Berta helped him plan the route and cheered him on.Each followed their own path, but shared her independent spirit. After suffering a massive heart attack in 1997, Berta's faith and unwillingness to give up in the face of adversity, resulted in the great gift to her family of another fifteen years of guidance and support. She was not done yet - and as a result experienced many highs and lows during these last fifteen years. The highlight being watching her grandchildren grow to adults and enjoying her five great grandchildren.Berta has had a positive impact on so many people in so many different ways. Now she has gone to join her family and friends in heaven knowing that her work here is done. She will be looking down on us and seeing the fruits of her life manifested in so many positive ways and influencing so many lives. Her commitment to service and caring is being carried on in the lives and careers of her grandchildren.In her words she asked to be remembered as follows:"My first love was and is Jesus Christ, Secondly, love for my three children and grandchildren, my mother, four sisters and two brothers. I was a caring loving person. In my years as a nurse in the NYS correctional system I trusted those individuals as patients not addicts or criminals. I was a Sunday schoolteacher, Youth Leader, Scout Leader, Mission Secretary and disciple for Jesus".She was engaged in life. We will miss her but thank you for your friendship and support. And ask you to hold her in your hearts.

Berta Jane McKenzie, 88, died peacefully in her sleep with her son, James and daughter-in-law, Maryanne by her side on October 26, 2012 in Fernandina Beach, FL. She was born in Wallingford, CT. She lived in CT and WNY for most of her life and the rest in GA and FL. She graduated from the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing in Bridgeport, CT as a Registered Nurse and served in the Nurse Cadet Core during 1944 and 1945 at the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona. Nursing was her profession and passion for 40 years. Being a Mom, Grandma, Aunt and friend were her greatest sources of joy throughout her life. She was the daughter of the late Frederick and Viola Gavette. She is preceded in death by her daughter, Bonnie Jean McKenzie, daughter in law, Melinda J. McKenzie, 4 sisters and 2 brothers. Berta was a member of the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach. Survivors include her sons: James McKenzie (Maryanne), and Jeffery McKenzie (Gerti); also Ed LaFontaine (Bonnie's long time partner); grandchildren: Kip Cardamone (Tonya), Erin Gottesman (Michael), Jeremy McKenzie (Nicole), and Kaitlyn Smith (Sam); great grandchildren: Dylan, Brandon, and Gianna Gottesman, Melinda (MJ), and Keegan McKenzie, and Hayden Smith. Memorial services were held on Tuesday, October 30, at the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach, Rev. Jeff Overton officiating. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Jane Adams House, 1550 Nectarine St, Amelia Island, FL or Northeast Florida Community Hospice, 4266 Sunbeam Rd, Jacksonville, Fl.




  • Created by: Robert "Bob" M. Gavette Jr.
  • Added: 3 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100094854
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Berta Jane Gavette Mckenzie (5 Jan 1924–26 Oct 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100094854, citing Hamden Plains Cemetery, Hamden, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Robert "Bob" M. Gavette Jr. (contributor 46984862) .