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Bernice Williams departed this life as she wished - peacefully in her home with her children at her bedside. Her earthly journey ended on February 8, 2024 at the blessed age of 95. She was born Bernice Campbell in Greenwood, South Carolina on October 11, 1928 to the late John Wesley Campbell and Johnnie Mae (Dean) Campbell.
At the tender age of 1 year Bernice’s mother died. Her father lovingly turned her over to her maternal aunts to be raised. Her dad subsequently remarried and he and his wife Viola Campbell gave Bernice an adoring brother, Thomas Campbell, who proceeded her in death.
Bernice’s aunts Mamie (Dean) Smith, Tessie (Dean) Watson, Gertrude (Dean) Harrison and Sarah (Dean) Settles along with their husbands, were devoted to providing Bernice with a strong foundation. They nurtured her throughout her entire young life assuring that she would be a well-rounded, productive contributor to the universe. Everything that was taught to Bernice in her early years was built on a fundamental principle - Jesus Christ and God’s Word. Bernice was baptized at Springfield Baptist, the family church in Greenwood. When her aunts sent her to Philadelphia to live her childhood connection to her family church made it an easy decision to join her Aunt Gertrude’s church, the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Here at Abyssinian is where she met the love of her life, Herman Williams, a young man freshly out of the Air Force who was visiting her church.
The two quickly found that they had a lot in common, particularly their love for God, their love for service and that both their lives had been steered by aunts and uncles. So a courtship began. Herman became an Abyssinian member and together they participated in the church’s numberous youth and young adult programs, classes and choirs.
Herman, aka ‘Nick’ was Bernice’s escort to her senior prom. Bernice’s growth and sense of independence after graduating from William Penn High School prompted Herman to nickname her “Blossom”. Nick and Blossom married on September 11, 1948. They maintained a happy union for 69 plus years until his passing. Two children were born of their union, Sheilah and Herman LaVert. Bernice and Herman also were the proud godparents to Donna, Dane, Debbie and Donald, all of whom they loved and treated as their own children.
In her latter years Bernice along with Herman began attending Sunday Service at a new local church in their neighborhood - From The Heart Church Ministries Of Philadelphia. Finding themselves spiritually fed and fulfilled they joined the church under the pastoral leadership of Jeffrey V. Branson and became part of it’s Golden Hearts Ministry, serving as their health would permit. Bernice’s love and respect for her church, it’s leadership and membersi continued to grow over the years. When her health no longer permitted her to physically attend services she regularly watched the live streamed services to receive the teaching of Pastor Reuben L. Monmouth, III.
Bernice was a highly skilled homemaker devoted to her family, her church and her community. She tactically divided her time to maintain a clean beautiful home while volunteering in her Tioga Nicetown neighborhood through her charitable group Club Las Amigas (of which she was a founding member). Her club provided hands on assistance and raised money to support programs and services that uplift the children, youth and elderly of the community. And Bernice was the ultimate “community mom”. If you were locked out of your house and your parents were at work, Bernice would provide a place of refuge. If a neighbor was in the hospital she could be counted on to go every day to care for them and provide reassurance that their children were safe, fed and well.
Though she was petite, quiet and reserved she had a quick wit. And when it came to defending or protecting her family, church or community she was a fierce and feisty little lady to be reckoned with.
Bernice took care of everyone, especially her family and friends. She will be remembered as an extraordinary Cook, a skilled Baker and a kind and gracious Hostess. You got a real treat if you had the good fortune to dine at her table! She had a warm heart and a beautiful spirit. She was a loyal friend and neighbor and the perfect example of a good wife and mother. She will be forever missed.
Bernice was preceded in death by her loving husband Herman Williams. She leaves to cherish her memory: her two children, devoted daughter Sheilah Williams and loving son Herman LaVert Williams (Mary); God daughters Donna Clement and Debbie Thompson, God sons Dane Small (Lemma), and Donald Small (Debbie), her dedicated Home Care Companion Beverly Banks, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
Submitted by the family in celebration of the life of Bernice Williams