Bernice's Story

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Bernice Wilkinson-Smusz
On November 11, 2017, Bernice left this Earth to join family and friends in Heaven.
Shelby Bernice Williams was born on May 8, 1920, to Shelby Howard and Jimmie May (Morgan) Williams in Wichita Falls, Texas. The family moved to Denton, where Bernice graduated from Denton High School at the age of 16 and attended the College of Industrial Arts, now Texas Woman's University. She married Glen R. Wilkinson on December 25, 1938. They raised two children, Gayla Margaret and James Glen.
Bernice was a gourmet cook, being a finalist in the prestigious Pillsbury Bake-Off contest in the early 1990's, and winning blue ribbons at the State Fair of Texas for pickles, relishes, jams, and jellies.
Bernice was also a business woman, working for several companies in Denton as bookkeeper and accountant. She earned her real estate license working with Jimmy Brown Realtors, followed by her broker's license, working with Osburn Realtors in Gainesville.
In 1972, Bernice and Glen moved into their first home at Lake Kiowa. They purchased Lake Kiowa Commercial Lot #1 for the Trading Post, General Store, a beauty shop, apartments, and Bernice's own real estate business, Bernice Wilkinson Realtor. She remained active in real estate well into her 80's.
Bernice was a charter member of the Kiowa Woman's Club and held multiple positions and offices including President 1986-87, 1st Vice President, Parliamentarian, Co-Chair of the Garden Club, President of Kiowa Ones, and a Member of the History Book Committee (the second ten years). Bernice always enjoyed playing a rousing game of bridge. Additionally, Bernice suggested naming the lake coves for noted Indian warriors. When the four-page newsletter grew into an 8-page tabloid, Bernice submitted a new name Lake Kiowa CommuniQue, first printed in 1985.
From the history book Lake Kiowa, Texas 76240 1980-1991, "Bernice Wilkinson was recognized for her active support of the fire department, the fishing club, and other community organizations. Also for producing and mailing improved maps of the development to the members, her fundraising campaigns, and for her imaginative naming of the water coves and later the Communique. Good job, Bernice."
Bernice married fellow Kiowan, Emil Smusz, September 20, 2003. She dearly loved her family and the many friends she cultivated over the years. Her gardening, cooking, and food competitions fed her spirit.
Bernice was a lifetime member of Soroptimist International Club of Gainesville, and a dedicated member of the First Christian Church of Gainesville.
Survivors include son, Jim Wilkinson of Lake Kiowa; daughter, Gayla Wilkinson Robles and life partner, Mark Swafford of Lake Kiowa, and several nieces and nephews. Her children wish to express their gratitude to the staff of Wheeler Place and Hospice Plus for their loving care.
Preceding Bernice in death were Glen Wilkinson and Emil Smusz; son-in-law, Robbie Robles, sisters, Genie Story and Margaret Mlller, brother, Donald Williams, parents, Shelby and Jimmie Williams, and five nephews, A graveside service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at Roselawn Cemetery in Denton, followed by a memorial service at 1:00 p.m. at First Christian Church in Gainesville, Reverend Mark Loewen officiating. Memorials may be made to Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department, VISTO, or First Christian Church of Gainesville.
You may sign the online registry at www.geojcarroll.com.
Published on November 13, 2017
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