The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 Bernice <I>McDowell</I> Warren

Bernice McDowell Warren

Titusville, Brevard County, Florida, USA
Death 19 Mar 1985 (aged 75)
Titusville, Brevard County, Florida, USA
Burial Mims, Brevard County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 175900749 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Sister Bernice McDowell Warren was born September 22, 1909, in Titusville, FL. She was the daughter of the late Jurusha and Jules McDowell.

She married Benjamin P. Warren, Sr., who preceded her in death. To this union one son was born.

Sister Warren confessed Christ and became an active member of St. James A.M.E. Church at an early age. She served as a steward, Church Treasurer and later became a Trustee, where she served until she became incapacitated. Sister Warren was a faithful church member and worker, as well as a dedicated community Christian.

Sister Bernice Warren was a very dedicated teacher for the Brevard County School System for a total of twenty-five years and member of the NAACP, Ladies Aide Society and the Retired Teachers Association.

She leaves to mourn her passing: a devoted son, Benjamin P. Warren, Jr., of Titusville, FL; four grandchildren: Benjamin, Sean, Christian and Stacey; aunt, Mrs. Sadie L. Gibson of Titusville, FL; one brother-in-law, Ernest Warren of Canton, OH; one sister-in-law, Betty Foot of Hope Sound, FL; one daughter-in-law, Charlene M. Warren; and a host of loving cousins, other relatives and sorrowing friends.

Loving memories never die
As days go on and years pass by
Deep in our hearts a memory is kept,
Of the one we love and can never forget

For as long as I can remember, you were always by my side
to give me support, to give me confidence, to give me help
For as long as I can remember, you were always the person
I looked up to, so strong, so sensitive, so pretty
For as long as I can remember, and still today, you are
everything a mother should be. . . .
For as long as I can remember, you always provided stability within our family, full of laughter, full of tears, full of love. .
Whatever I have become is because of you and I thank you
forever for our relationship

More than a woman, she's your dearest friend,
always there when no one else is around,
always giving of herself, and giving her all.
Someone that will never laugh at your mistakes,
for your hurt becomes hers.
Always standing beside you, never in front or behind you.
As strong as an oak tree, yet as gentle as a morning rainfall and as beautiful as a sunset; everlasting beauty that will never perish.

MY MOTHER. . .I loved her so.


In one of the African languages, there is a word, “OGAMAMA”, which loosely translated means great soul. We are proud to dedicate this reunion to our great soul. In the memories of our school years, the one expression that comes nearest to that meaning is Bernice McDowell or Bernice Williams or Bernice Warren - depending on the years that you were in school. But no matter what those years were, everyone agrees that Mrs. Bernice Warren was indeed a great soul.

She was one of the most sensitive caring, and dedicated teachers in the history of the school. All who came under her influence recall fondly the times when she helped them some way. Her uncanny sense of knowing who needed a little extra support through a word of encouragement, some special tutoring, a big hug, a ride to college, or even some small amount of money to care for a need made her really special.

Bernice Warren’s personal history is intimately entwined with the history of the school. She was the niece of Andrew J. Gibson, the founding father and patriarch of Black education in Titusville. She was a member of the first ninth grade graduating class of the Titusville Negro School. After obtaining her teaching credentials, she came back home to teach and spent her entire career here.

Her teaching and caring extended beyond the classroom. She spent from her meager salary to create a more comfortable and attractive learning environment. Her classroom was ceiled and painted. She had a small "library” of her own books. She always added something extra in an effort to enrich the lives of her pupils. At one time it may have been a tr1p to Bethune-Cookman College to meet Mrs. Bethune. Another time she took the class to see President Roosevelt as he came in on the train that stopped here briefly. A special arts and crafts project or a new book in the library she created were some of her ways of saying, “enjoy the beautiful things of life.”

She taught us more than good manners, she taught us gentility. She taught pride in race by using Black persons as exemplars of courage and achievement. She taught humility, by her own fine example. She gave us hope and courage and confidence. In dedicating this reunion to Mrs. Warren, we hope to recapture something of her great soul. The Africans say that no one ever dies as long as their name is mentioned aloud. In this dedication, we will mention her name again and again as we will her to live through the ages. Dear Mrs. McDowell-Williams-Warren, OGAMAMA, we salute you and proudly dedicate this reunion to you.

*Excerpt from the program journal entitled "TITUSVILLE BLACK SCHOOLS REUNION CELEBRATION", July 30 - August 1, 1993, Pg. 1-6.

Bernice McDowell Warren was more than a teacher, she was a leader.

by Dr. Frank E. Williams
Star-Advocate Special Columnist

Mrs. Bernice McDowell Warren died March 20, 1985. The people of Titusville and Brevard County lost one of its most distinguished citizens.

For me, I have lost a close personal friend, my beloved fourth-grade teacher- one who inspired me as a youngster and greatly influenced my life. I have had several great teachers, but I do not think that any one of the others had a greater impact on my life than did Mrs. Warren.

She leaves to her son, Benjamin Purcell Warren Jr., and to her grandchildren, Benjamin, Sean, Christian and Stacy, a boundless and endless love and legacy of honor. To all of us who sat in her classes - she was i a leader the greatest role model we have ever known. "Bernie," as she was affectionately known to many, was the grandniece of Andrew J. Gibson, a prominent black businessman from before the turn of the century until his death in the late 1930s. She lost both of her parents at an early age and was reared by an aunt, who lived on Hopkins Avenue at Union Street. She attended the local school and graduated from the eighth grade, which was as far as it went at that time.

Sacrifice and striving are the hallmarks of her life. With the help of her aunt and her work as a domestic, she finished high school at Boylan-Haven School in Jacksonville, FL. She attended Bennett College in North Carolina and Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, FL. She was a personal acquaintance of Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of Bethune-Cookman College, the National Council of Negro Women and friend and advisor to President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mrs. Warren was driven by a desire to "be somebody" and no amount of sacrifice was too much for her. She became a teacher in the early '30s at the Titusville Negro School. She often spoke about working for $50 a month as a teacher and working as a domestic during the summers to have enough money to continue her education and build her home.

Perhaps the most important thing about her was that she helped to build young boys and girls into responsible and proud men and women. A true description of her role in this community for her 76 years would have to be teacher and missionary. She used her personal money to seal and paint her classroom to change it from a barn-like appearance to a place of comfort and some beauty. She spent her own money to purchase pencils, paper and magazines to help her pupils. She paid for school lunches for those who did not have money. She taught parents ways of caring for their children to help them be healthier and better students.

A case in point is one that concerns me. I was hit in the eye by a flying object, but I still have some vision in that eye because of her efforts. She took me to Dr. Christie and insisted that he attend me, even though he was just setting up his office and had not yet served a single patient in Titusville. She offered to pay him but he refused and tended my eye. In future years, Dr. Christie would always inquire about her because her dedication impressed him so deeply.

More than any other teacher during our early years, Mrs. Warren worked extra hard to expose us to black history as well as to other persons and events of significance. She had personally met James Weldon Johnson, the black poet from Jacksonville; Mary McLeod Bethune; Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute; and the great scientist George Washington Carver. She told us stories about these and other great black leaders.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was brought by car from Orlando, FL, to board the train in Titusville, FL, there were some who did not want black students to witness this occasion. A call by Mrs. Warren to a prominent member of the community caused the superintendent of schools to relent. We saw the president.

Teaching was a passion to her. She gave all she had through her teaching. Many persons, her church and other institutions are recipients of her quiet largesse.

As I reflect on my love and admiration for Bernice M. Warren, I am sure that I represent many of her former students, friends and fellow-citizens when I say:

"Where she stood was a place of beauty because it reflected her; whatever she did, it was her best because she believed God would be satisfied with nothing less; She was a happy person because for her happiness was accomplishing something worthwhile and this she did."

She taught us to read, write, do arithmetic and much more. She taught us that we were somebody very special, to aim high, to give of ourselves to others, especially the young and needy. She taught us about love and being loved - love of family, friends, God, country but most of all love yourself. She taught us to recognize the humanity of all people. Lastly she taught us how to die.

We learned from her never to give up. She epitomizes the words of Dr. Benjamin Mays who said: "It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It is not calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach for the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim, is sin."

When I was a child, people would often say when an extraordinarily good person died, God commanded the soul to journey from Earth to Heaven. After a period of time, their loved ones, attracted by a "shooting star" would see it come to a halt and a bright new star would appear in the sky. The deceased loved one became a star which watched over and guided the loved ones on Earth forever. Such ought to be the case for Bernice McDowell Warren, for she has been our guiding star and I suspect that her teaching and example will continue to guide our lives so long as we shall live.

"Good-bye, Bernie, our teacher and beloved friend. May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest."

Family Members





  • Created by: Kirk A. Davis
  • Added: 31 Jan 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 175900749
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bernice McDowell Warren (22 Sep 1909–19 Mar 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 175900749, citing LaGrange Cemetery, Mims, Brevard County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Kirk A. Davis (contributor 48961009) .