Bernice M. Imhoff
August 11, 1910 ‒ March 15, 2009
Mount Gilead, Ohio
Bernice M. Imhoff, age 98, of Mount Gilead, died peacefully Sunday afternoon, March 15, 2009, at her residence.
On August 11, 1910, Bernice was born in Congress Township of Morrow County, the daughter of the late Ellis Jay and Sarah (Mitchell) Peoples. She attended grades one through eight at the Pleasant Grove Schoolhouse, and she graduated from Mount Gilead High School in the Class of 1928, where she was Valedictorian of her class.
Following her graduation from high school, Bernice enrolled at Ashland College to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Because times were tough on the family farm though, she only attended college for one year, and to help her family she took her first teaching job at the one room Pleasant Grove Schoolhouse, where her education began. At the age of 19, she found herself in front of 33 students teaching grades one through eight.
Determined to finish college, Bernice would walk three miles to catch a ride to Ashland to continue taking Saturday classes. She completed two years of her education at Ashland College, and for many years to follow she would continue taking classes while teaching in both Mount Gilead and Mansfield schools. She eventually would obtain both her bachelor’s degree of science in Elementary Education and her master’s degree in Special Education from the Ohio State University.
In 1931, Bernice accepted a position in the Mount Gilead Schools to teach fifth grade where she would remain until 1942, when she took a position as a fourth grade teacher at Woodland School in Mansfield. She continued living at home to help on the family farm and to care for her ailing mother until her death in 1944. In 1950, she returned to Mount Gilead Schools for five years, and during this time she earned her master’s degree in special education. In 1955, this led Bernice to teach special education classes at John Sherman Junior High School until her retirement in 1971, after 41 years of teaching. Countless students benefitted from her thorough instruction and unique kindness and humor.
During her high school years, Bernice had been acquainted with Atlee Imhoff, who was a friend of her cousin. Nevertheless they lost touch until one day in the early 1950’s when he called her from the Globe Hotel to see if he could visit her. This visit was the beginning of their courtship and later their marriage on July 17, 1954. Atlee was a postal worker in Shelby, and he was required to live in his district. Bernice felt she couldn’t leave her father who refused to leave the family farm, so they only spent weekends together until her father died in 1961. Then, Bernice would live with Atlee in Shelby as they finished their careers. In their spare time they would remodel her family farmhouse to be their retirement home. In 1974, they moved there and enjoyed several happy years until Atlee preceded her in death on November 2, 1985.
Always on the go, Bernice volunteered for many organizations, several of which she was a charter member of. She was a lifelong member of the Pleasant Grove Church of Christ, where she taught Sunday School and VBS. She was active in the Orchid Twig with Morrow County Hospital, AAUW and its book group, American Cancer Society, Delta Kappa Gamma, Fine Arts Guild, Hospice of Morrow County, Morrow County Historical Society, Retired Teachers Association, Senior Progress Club, Wayside Garden Club, Williamsport Grange where she was a member for over 50 years, and the Ohio Eastern Star, where she served as Past Matron of the Angelus Chapter Shiloh, Deputy Grand Matron in 1973 and is a current member of the Rizpah Chapter, Shelby, Ohio.
In Morrow County, Bernice may be best known for the weekly column she wrote for the Morrow County Sentinel known as “News from Pleasant Grove.” Her first column for the Sentinel would appear in 1925, at the age of 15, and she would continue to report the local happenings for ten years. Upon her and Atlee’s return to the family farmhouse in 1974, she picked up where she left off and was a weekly contributor for nearly thirty five more years.
“A survivor,” Bernice lived a full ninety eight years of life, which is especially courageous considering she survived three bouts of cancer, with the most recent bout being in 1991.
Full of love and compassion, Bernice was a blessing to the small Pleasant Grove Community for nearly her entire life. She would eventually “reap what she sowed” for all those years from her good neighbors. During the past four years, when her health was failing and she had to give up her life on the go and driving, Bernice was able to continue living at home because of the care she received from her neighbors and her niece. Her network of caregivers made sure she was well fed for every meal, she made it to all of her necessary appointments, and they even took care of her family farmhouse.
Bernice will be dearly missed by her sister, Mildred (Harold) Ringer of Hicksville, Ohio; nieces Joyce (John) Birkhold of Antwerp, Judy (Norm) Roehrs of Findlay, Ohio, and Bonnie Peck of Logan, Ohio; nephew Gary (Betty) Garverick of Coshocton, Ohio; her cat, Tiger; and many dear friends.
In addition to her parents and husband, Bernice was preceded in death by her sister, Anna L. Garverick on August 8, 1981.
Her family will greet friends from 2–4 & 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2009, at the Snyder Funeral Home, 76 S. Main St., Mount Gilead. Pastor Ray Linn will conduct services there on Friday at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow in Rivercliff Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Pleasant Grove Church of Christ, 7197 Co. Rd. 46, Mount Gilead, Ohio 43338, or to the American Cancer Society, 870 Michigan Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Online condolences to her family are encouraged and may be expressed at www.snyderfuneralhomes.com.