Bernice Leona Wiest, of Richland, MI, 98, entered into the presence of the Lord on September 26, 2023.
She was born on January 15, 1925, in Byron Center, Michigan to Henry and Ida (Homrich) Nickels. Bernice was raised on her family’s farm during the depression where she developed a strong work ethic and resilient spirit at a young age. Life on the farm during this time was filled with hardships, but she found joy in playing with her many cousins at family gatherings as well as at St. Sebastian school. Nothing was more important to her than family and friends, a belief she lived out her whole life. When she was a teenager, her family moved to Wyoming, MI. After a variety of jobs, she began to work at the American Excelsior Corporation in Grand Rapids, MI and continued there through WW II.
On June 7, 1947, she married the love of her life and soulmate, Arthur J Wiest. Together they danced, roller skated and became temporary foster parents before becoming outstanding parents to their own children, Kenneth and Kathleen.
In the early 1960’s the family moved to Hickory Corners for Art’s job at MSU’s WK Kellogg Biological Station. Bernice also worked there. They remained at KBS until their retirement in 1991.
Art and Bernice moved to Richland, Michigan where they continued to enjoy their time with friends and family. They were long-time devoted members of St. Ann’s Church where Art also worked; Bernice assisted him by volunteering to mow grass and clean and set up rooms for catechism. She was early to Mass every Sunday to pick up the bulletins from the night before. Life with Art was filled with hard work, as well as laughter and much love. She enjoyed being his partner in crime and was often heard exclaiming “Art!” after his many jokes or escapades.
Bernice never complained and was content with simple things. She was a woman of unshakeable faith. She loved watching birds, going to church fish fries, watching Lawrence Welk and eating chocolate. Her favorite activities included sitting outside conversing with friends and neighbors. She relished her Thursday evening Girl’s Night dinners with her closest friends. But, most of all she loved her family. Nothing brought her greater joy in life than spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her infectious smile and sparkling blue eyes greeted everyone she met. Bernice was loved by many and will be missed by all.
Bernice is survived by her son Ken (Rhonda) and daughter Kathy (Brent Gould), along with her grandchildren Jonathon (Christine) Wiest, Lauren (Thomas) Barbian and Matthew Wiest; stepchildren Craig Gould and Lena (Tom) Sajter; great-grandchildren Ezra, Ivyanna, Malachi and Judah Wiest, Violet and Jacob Barbian; step grandchildren Josiah and Elyzabeth Gould and Remi Sajter; her sister-in-law Carol Nickels; brother and sister-in-law Bob and Kathy Wiest. Bernice was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Elmer Nickels, sister Linda Potjer and several brothers and sisters in law.
Bernice’s family will receive friends on Sunday, October 1st from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Cremation Preneed Care, Richland Chapel, 9170 East D Avenue (M-89), where the Parish Rosary will be recited at 4 pm. Also, the family will receive friends on Monday, October 2nd from 10 am to 11 am in the Social Hall of St. Ann Catholic Church, 12648 East D Avenue, Augusta, MI 49012. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 am in St. Ann Catholic Church with Father Christopher J. Derda, Celebrant and Deacon Michael A. Carl, Assisting. Family and friends will continue Bernice’s life celebration with a time of fellowship and a luncheon immediately following the Mass in the Social Hall. Final interment will be on Tuesday, October 3rd at 11 am in Resurrection Cemetery, Wyoming, MI, next to her beloved husband, Art. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Bernice’s honor may be directed to St. Ann Catholic Church (see address above) or Rose Arbor Hospice, 5473 Croyden Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. The Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Cremation Preneed Care, Richland Chapel is assisting Bernice’s family.
The family has created a beautiful slideshow of memories and it may be viewed at https://vimeo.com/869693597.