MRS. BERNICE BUTLER by Marilyn Wolski Basaker (’71)
Bernice was born September 14, 1913 in Modesto, California. Her natural father left early on and her mom re-married. She and her sister were farmed out to their grandma, a very strict and stern woman. Her home life was not always pleasant, so Bernice threw herself into school and piano and saw education as her path. While attending to Modesto Junior College, she met Bob Butler. They started a relationship that has lasted over 75 years. From working at her sister’s sandwich shop for over 2 1/2 years, she saved enough money to go to San Francisco State where she majored in education and music. Although she was the first person in her family to graduate from college, no family member attended her graduation. She and Bob married in Reno on August 1, 1938. Times were tough but Bernice landed a teaching job in Modesto. A few years later she and Bob moved to Los Angeles. During the war she taught school while Bob worked at Lockheed. They lived in Toluca Lake near Bing Crosby and other stars. Bob’s job transferred him to Iowa where Bernice gave birth to two sons. There was one more family move to Indiana and then finally they came back to California in 1954 because Mrs. Butler did not like the cold, and she shuddered at the thought of it. The family settled in Ladera Heights near Inglewood around 1956. When the kids got old enough, Bernice went back to work as a fourth grade teacher at Warren Lane Elementary School. The rest, as they say, is history. Upon retirement, the Butlers traveled the world and helped out their children. Bernice worked tirelessly to give her family the love and support she never had growing up. Bob died in 2002 at the age of 91, and Bernice moved to Camarillo to be close to her family. She has outlived everyone on both sides of the family by several years. In summer, 2008, Steve Silverman, Connie Cashin (both ’71) Sherrie Basch Stelik (’72) and I had the honor of lunching with Bernice, her son, and her daughter in law. Sadly, just one year later she passed away on October 31, 2009, at the age of 96. There is so much to say about this fine lady. The fact that she still kept in touch with some of her Warren Lane students pretty much says it all.