Bernice Ann (Blockhus) Baird passed away in Reno, Nev., on Sept. 5, 2016, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. She was one day shy of her 89th birthday.
Bernice (Bunny) was born Sept. 6, 1927, in a log cabin on her family farm in Fayette County, in Northeast Iowa. Her parents were Michael and Olga (Gilbertson) Blockhus. Bernice was proud of her Norwegian heritage and grew up speaking English and Norwegian. Bernice graduated from Elgin High School at age 16. She enjoyed telling others that she walked two miles to and from school for 12 years, rain or shine! She earned an AA Teaching Credential from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1946. After teaching elementary school in Decorah and McGregor, Iowa, Bernice moved to Greeley, Colo., to attend Colorado State College and earned her B.A. degree in Education in 1952. She then taught elementary school in Boulder, Colo.
While attending Colorado State Bernice met the love of her life Gerald (Jerry) Lee Baird, while attending a Lutheran Student Association meeting. On June 21, 1953, Bernice and Jerry were married at East Clermont Lutheran Church in Iowa.
Jerry joined the Air Force during the Korean War and he and Bernice moved to the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. When Jerry was transferred overseas to the Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, Bernice and their first child (Jim) went back to Iowa to live on the family farm. After Jerry was honorably discharged from the Air Force he and Bernice set out to find a place to settle down and raise a family. After spending time in Portland, Ore., (a bit too foggy and rainy), and San Diego (a bit too big), they settled in Ventura, Calif., (just right!). Jerry and Bernice spent 50 years in Ventura until health issues necessitated they move closer to family (Sue) in Reno, Nev.
While raising their children in Ventura, Jerry taught elementary school and Bernice worked as a secretary for Trinity Lutheran Church. Bernice also devoted time to helping seniors, volunteering at the food pantry, and supporting charitable endeavors aimed at assisting people in need. Bernice was happiest when spending time with family, friends, and helping others.
The Lutheran Church played a central role in Bernice's life. East Clermont Lutheran Church in Iowa, Trinity Lutheran Church in Ventura, and The Springs Lutheran Church in Sparks, Nev., all provided her with joy, comfort, companionship, and shared values for serving her community while serving her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Bernice is survived by her husband Jerry, Reno, Nev., her son Jim Baird (Jeanne) Hydesville, Calif., her daughter Susan Abeloe (Dave) Reno, Nev., two grandchildren: Ryan (Jennifer) Abeloe, Rachel Abeloe, and three great grandchildren: Talan, Grace and Santiago. She is survived by her brother Ken (Harriet) Blockhus, Elgin, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her parents, her daughter Janet Baird, and her brothers Michael Blockhus and Harlan Blockhus ‘51.
Bernice's wishes were to have her family scatter her ashes. If you wish to remember her, please make a donation to the Alzheimer's Association, the American Diabetes Association, or to your favorite charity in her name.