Berniece Marie (Valentine) Meyers of Pierre, SD went home to be with the Lord on March 3, 2020. She passed peacefully at her home under Hospice care after a valiant battle with cancer.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Pierre, with burial to follow at Scotty Phillip Cemetery in Ft. Pierre. Visitation will be held on Friday, March 6, 2020 from 5:00 to 7:00pm at Isburg Funeral Chapel in Pierre with a prayer service beginning at 7:00pm. Online condolences may be written at: www.isburgfuneralchapels.com
Bernie was born on November 20, 1949 in Pierre to Ausbrand and LaVerne Valentine. She was raised in a loving home with 2 brothers, Verne (Judy), Bobby (Debbie) and 2 sisters Mary (Bob Austad) and Colleen (Don Skinner). It was in this environment that she acquired her lifelong love of music and singing.
Bernie began her education at the age of 5 at Orton, where she skipped Kindergarten and went straight into 1st Grade. Bernie was introduced to the Native American culture there, which began a lifelong passion. She continued her schooling in Fort Pierre where she was very active in music, Honor Society and Debate. During her high school career, she was a piano accompanist for soloists, choir, groups and was crowned the Queen of Job’s Daughters. She graduated from Fort Pierre High School in 1968.
Following graduation, Bernie attended Black Hills State College in Spearfish, SD. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music in 1971.
Using her degree, Bernie began teaching at Midland School as the Vocal and Band Instructor for grades K-12. She excelled in this role in a school that had not had a music program in years. She started her band with all beginners, many of whom had never even touched an instrument. By Christmas of her first year with them, she and her band of beginners debuted at the Christmas concert with Jingle Bells and Silent Night. Throughout her time with them, the Music program at Midland continued to grow in popularity, adding musicals to their repertoire and attracting audiences from as far away as Sioux Falls!
It was during her time at Midland that Bernie met the love of her life and future husband, Phil.
Bernie continued teaching music for many years. She inspired hundreds of students to love music at Stanley County, Timber Lake and Pierre Indian Learning Center. In 2001, she earned her Masters degree and Administrator endorsement from the University of South Dakota. She served as Principal at Pierre Indian Learning Center for 2 years before becoming Principal at Tiospaye Topa, where she stayed for 11 years. She concluded her teaching career as a Reading Specialist and Title Specialist in Wakapala in 2018.
While serving as teacher and principal, Bernie and her husband Phil also raised 3 children, Darron, Dana and Damon, who she loved more than anything. This was Bernie’s most important job of all and she excelled at it. Bernie enjoyed spending time with her children and was never far from the action. Their home was a loving and inviting home to all of her childrens’ friends. Many nights were spent playing cards and would eventually end up gathered around her singing as she played piano. Everyone had a favorite song and begged her to play “just one more” for them. The true joy came from watching her fingers dance on the keys, and many times verses were skipped because it was just so mesmerizing to watch her play.
Bernie often said that she enjoyed being a Grandmother best because she got to do all of the fun stuff with her grandchildren. Being a Grandma suited her well and she could often be seen in a shirt embroidered with her grandchildren’s names. Bernie was affectionately named Bahmo by her grandchildren. She was the proud Bahmo of 3 granddaughters, Kenzie Kay, Alexis Rose and Kendyl Dayne and; 9 grandsons, Miquaid Scott, Trenton Shawn, Daulton Steele, Alex John, Brant Anthony, Rylan Arron and Brodie Phillips, Dakota Scott and Jacob Ryan.
The impact that Bernie had on everyone she came in contact with was evident in her final months. Her home was filled with many visitors all wanting to wish her well in her final journey. She greeted each visitor with her trademark hug and her infectious smile. All left her side feeling better than when they came, which is exactly how they remembered every visit with her.
Her daughter Dana was a constant presence, and her sons Darron (Peg) and Damon (Sara), made several trips from Colorado to spend time with her. Her sister Mary visited daily and was an invaluable caregiver. Bernie spent her final days at her home with her husband at her side, caring for her and talking about the beautiful life they built together.
Bernie was preceded in death by her parents Ausbrand and LaVerne Valentine, brother Verne Valentine, and brother-in-law Bob Austad.
The family would like to thank all who made the trip to visit, sent flowers, cards and gifts and called to give support in her final days, as well as her team of doctors, nurses and caregivers.