Bernita Louise Perry was born April 10, 1926, at 333 East 16th in Concordia, Kansas, to Carl Seth and Josephine Elizabeth Thoman. She grew up delivering milk with her brother, Delmer, for the family dairy and worked as a telephone operator during WW II and beyond in Concordia and Denver, Colorado, monitoring the local gossip.
After that first dance in Clyde, Kansas, Bernita married Leland Francis Perry on January 31, 1947, in Concordia. They danced through the next 72 years and Leland is still going strong. They bought the house at 917 Broadway and she made it a home for the next 35 years. She was immensely proud to be a wife and mother.
Leland and Bernita had 3 children: Cynthia, Stanton (Rupa), and Deeanna, and 1 honorary son, John Bauer. They added 8 grandchildren: Tjorvi, Ylfa, Elizabeth, Andrew, Solvi, Jessica, Nyasha, Tristan and 15 great grandchildren: Edda Brynja, Kari, Anja, Kaya Sol, Siggi, Lucy, Tuck, Rose, Nilou, Darius, Arlo, Effie Mae, Paige, Lincoln and Mackenzie, and countless others she made feel like family. There is a pair of Osh-Kosh overalls that she made sure was passed down through every grand and great grand-child and is being worn today by Effie Mae.
She was active in the community, especially the church, PEO, and LINK, and volunteered at the hospital in both Concordia and Lawrence, where they lived since 1986. But she will be remembered best for the warm and loving home she created including ironing 26,280 shirts for Leland and making family favorites like potato soup, brownies, slush, macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles and graham cracker pie.
Her brother, Delmer Sydney Thoman, passed 8 years ago. In addition to her offspring, most of whom have gathered in her home to celebrate her life, she will be remembered by many nieces and nephews: Delmer, Kent, Chris, JD, Phillip, Janice, Barbara, Justin, Jenna and Alisha.
As requested by Bernita and Leland, there will be no service. Condolences to the family and donations to the First Presbyterian Church in Concordia or the Westside Presbyterian Church in Lawrence can be sent through Warren-McElwain Mortuary.