Bernice Etta Parkerson, 92, passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, leaving behind a lifetime of precious memories and a family who cherished their silver-haired mother for her patience, sweet temperament, and ever-present smile. The third of six children, Bernice was born in Tulsa, Okla., on May 11, 1928 to Walter and Lizzie Phelps. On Feb. 8, 1947, at the tender age of 18, she married the love of her life, Edwin Walter Parkerson in Tulsa, and together in 1959 they moved their four young children to Ardmore where they enjoyed raising their family, camping, traveling and bass fishing prior to Ed’s death in 1993.
As a young girl, Bernice helped out as a mechanic in the garage of her father’s Pontiac dealership in Tulsa, a skill passed on to her son Buddy. Bubbly and fun-loving, she was fondly described by her younger brother Glen as a “fox” who, along with their other four sisters, used to dress him up in their doll clothes. Despite her diminutive size, petite Bernice was a star player on the Barnsdall High School basketball team. Before she and Ed moved to Ardmore, Bernice worked for Douglas Aircraft in Tulsa as one of the original “Rosie the Riveters,” and when her kids reached school age, she parlayed her natural charm into a job at Avon Cosmetics, receiving their President’s Club Award for many years. Never one to sit still, Bernice enjoyed watching purple martins in her backyard and gardening, earning Operation Pride’s Yard of the Week award multiple times. She was well known for the delicate art of needlepointing and even more accomplished as a seamstress, skills she passed on to her only daughter Susie. Bernice’s after-Thanksgiving-dinner domino-playing skills were epic, and despite her doctor’s advice, she couldn’t resist a box of chocolates or a bowl of pecans. She was always punctual, and expected everyone else to be as well. Even the smallest gesture directed Bernice’s way earned a hand-written “thank you” note from her, a simple act of etiquette and graciousness almost entirely forgotten today.
Bernice and Ed were both active in the Ardmore community, with Bernice volunteering for many years as a Jaycee Jane. She was always impeccably dressed and never had a trademark silver hair out of place thanks to the Friday morning “beauty shop” appointments she never missed until hip replacement surgery sidelined her a couple of years ago. Even that didn’t slow her down, as she continued to take her beloved Pomeranian, Benny, for his daily walk. As long as she was able to drive, she never missed Sunday morning service at The First Methodist Church.
Bernice was a devoted fan of the Dallas Cowboys, OU Sooners, and OSU Cowboys, but aside from her children, five grandchildren and 6-1/2 great-grandchildren, nothing gave her more pleasure than firing up her big red bass boat for a weekend at Lake Fork with Harley and Bill. “Bassin’ Bernice” was fiercely competitive and hauled in more than her fair share of big ones, her love of fishing acquired while she and Ed were a team.
She was a proud mother and grandmother who never missed a wedding, graduation, or one of Bad Bud’s car races, and her thoughtfulness and generosity to her children and their spouses and to her grandchildren will long be remembered. Each and every Christmas and birthday, she remembered her extended family of children, their spouses, and grandchildren with a card and check, and was always quick to respond to every celebratory occasion with a hearty “All RIGHT!”
Bernice is survived by her son Bill Parkerson and his wife Miriam; son Buddy Parkerson and his wife Betty; son Harley Parkerson; daughter Pamela Sue Rigney and her husband Joe; grandchildren Ragan and Melissa Parkerson, Cory and Jennifer Parkerson, Brittany and Michael Porter, Amanda and Dustin Wheeler, and Bonnie and Dillon McCarthick; great-grandchildren Averly Parkerson, Emma and Brooklyn Porter, Thorstin and Titus Wheeler, Gatlyn and new-baby-on-the-way McCarthick; her beloved sister Nelda Wright and baby brother Glen Phelps, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Elvena, Vera June, and Rena, and her best friend and loving husband Ed Parkerson, with whom she is reunited at last in Heaven.
The family wishes to thank Bernice’s kind and attentive caregivers Cheryl Ford and Briana Parker, who were instrumental in making her final days as peaceful as possible. In lieu of flowers, a contribution in memory of Bernice to Cross Timbers Hospice would be appreciated. Without their care and compassion this journey would have been unbearable.
To our mother and grandmother, we are eternally grateful for your unconditional love and support. As much as we miss you now and forever, we are collectively grateful that your pain and suffering are over and that you and Daddy are together again, as it should be.
Graveside service and interment will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Hillcrest Memorial Park, under the direction of Craddock Funeral Home. As a precaution, the family respectfully requests that guests wear a face mask.
Published on November 13, 2020