The youngest child of six children and born on November 29, 1924 in the small town of Magness, Arkansas to Dovie Mae (Houston) and Benjamin Homer Simmons, Hazel Bernice Simmons Yarger lived nearly 95 years, passing away on November 14, 2019.
Bernice was reared virtually as an only child as her mother was 43 and her father 50 when she was born. She was five years old when her father died, so by 1935, Bernice and her mother moved to join her siblings who had already traveled north to Michigan.
She attended Battle Creek Central High School, graduating in 1943. She met Robert "Bob" Yarger while attending a dance at Fort Custer, the two fell in love and married on Christmas Eve of 1942 during her senior year of high school. With World War II on the horizon, Bob joined in the fight and was shipped overseas. While Bob was in the service, Bernice lived with her in-laws, Glenn and Marguerite Yarger, working from 1943 to 1946 for Percy Jones General Hospital.
Upon Bob's return, they started a family, having three sons. While the boys were young, Bernice stayed home with them. But, by the time her youngest son was ten, Bernice went to work in 1968 for the Battle Creek Public Schools as a secretary, retiring January 29, 1988.
Whenever company dropped by to visit Bernice, they would find her whistling in the kitchen, preparing a plate of cookies and glasses of grape juice. She was a past president of the Verona PTA and was a member of the First Congregational Church and its Chapel Circle. In her younger years, she enjoyed playing golf and up until the last couple of years was an avid reader. Additionally, Bernice loved watching the Detroit Tigers on TV or listening to them on the radio. But her biggest love was her family from which she derived pride, inspiration and affection.
Bernice is survived by her sons Glenn (Alison) Yarger, Larry (Terry) Yarger and Mark (Heidi) Yarger; grandchildren Kim Berger, Mike (Michelle) Yarger and Ben Yarger of Battle Creek; Luke (Lauren) Yarger of Hickory Corners; Allison (Tim) Ashbrook of Yorba Linda, California; Jim (fiancée Ann Marie Koopman) Yarger of Norman, Oklahoma; Laura (Dirail) Flenoral of Baltimore, Maryland and Sarah (Phil) Varty of Denver, Colorado; step-grandchildren Travis (Tammi) Glenn of Wesley Chapel, Florida and Cabe (Kate) Churchill of Homer. She is also survived by 13 great-grandchildren with one on the way and many special nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband Robert Yarger in 1998; sisters Hester Lee Thompson, Estella Drumhiller and Helen Dilsaver; brothers Homer Simmons and Hansel Simmons as well as sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Art Middleton and Marion Middleton Barney and Don and Marguerite Yarger.
A graveside service will take place at Ft. Custer National Cemetery on Friday, November 22, 2019 at 12:00 PM. Memorial contributions should be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation, PO Box 368, Woodland Hills, CA 91365 or via the internet at www.garysinisefoundation.org/donate/. The Gary Sinise Foundation serves our nation by honoring its defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. You may also contact the funeral home for assistance in making memorial contributions.
Bernice is being served by the Battle Creek Chapel of the Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 2838 Capital Avenue S.W. in Battle Creek, https://www.kempffuneralhome.com
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Gary Sinise Foundation
P.O. Box 368, Woodland Hills CA 91365