Grace Legate Kreger Bernard passed away on Feb. 16, 2011.
Grace was born on April 8, 1913 to Willis Kreger and Amanda Legate Kreger. Her father was a minister at the Burkburnet, TX Church of Christ and Amanda was a teacher, both educated at Gunter Christian College and Thorp Springs Christian College. Grace was the oldest of four children and later two half sisters. She attended grade school at Tioga, TX, graduating from Burkburnet High School in 1930.
She attended Abilene Christian College from 1931-1933 and was a member of the W Club, a worthy women's academics and honor club. She was salutatorian and was voted a homecoming beauty in the Prickly Pear Yearbook. She then went on to teach third grade in Burkburnet.
In 1935, she married her college sweetheart, Virgil W. Bernard, at ACC. Virgil was the Business Manager of the school paper The Optimist, the president of the Press Club, and a Sub-T member. They lived in Rush Springs, OK, until 1940 while Virgil ran a General Merchantile and Grace was busy with her first two toddlers, Emily Sue and Bill. They attended the Rush Springs Church of Christ.
The family moved to College Station, TX in 1942 where Virgil taught engineering at Texas A&M University, due to a shortage of teachers because of the war.
In 1951 and 1952, Paula Ruth and Bernie Boyd were born. Grace and Virgil were charter members of the A&M Church of Christ. Two years later until 1964, the family of six moved to Abilene, TX where Virgil was the General Manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Company. Grace worked full-time raising four children — now two teens and two toddlers, and keeping up with Virgil. The family were members of the "Church on the Hill".
With Sue married and Bill in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne, the family of four moved to Austin, TX in 1964. Paula and Bernie graduated from McCallum High School, then went to college at ACU.
Seven grandchildren came from 1962 through 1982. Starting in 2002, nine great-grandchildren came along and presently more are still yet to come.
During her time in Austin, TX, Grace taught junior high school girls. She was an active leader in the women's classes, cooking and entertaining constantly in her home. She, along with her friend Biddie Jackson, hosted and fed the Annual Abilene Crowd attending the Texas Relays, around 50 to 60 people.
During all these years, all of her children and grandchildren would bring in groups of college friends to spend the weekends at Grandma Grace's, eating Grace's homemade cooking served so lovely with a loving and gracious heart so that all had a splendid time. As her children and grandchildren came through her home, so did the various dogs, horses, cats, fish and birds to lodge at her home.
In 1992, Virgli died of a heart attack at the age of 80, several years following their 50th wedding anniversary. Grace filled her life still serving and entertaining her family and friends.
A year later, Grace moved to Round Rock, TX, next door to Joe, Paula, Hope and Joy Bagby. Grace quickly became a blessing to the Westside Church — where Joe served as minister — because of her gracious hospitality and delicious chocolate pies. Grace and Paula would enjoy their morning coffee in Grace's kitchen, of course.
In 2000, Grace's oldest daughter, Sue Hancock, died of meningitis in Houston, TX. The following year, Grace moved to Sweetwater, TX next door to the Bagbys once again. Joe was the minister at 4th & Elm Church of Christ, and Grace kept on and kept on cooking. She was a faithful member of the "Lunch Bunch Club" in Abilene, composed of widows from her ACC college days that met for lunch every Friday in Abilene. Grace was driving across Texas by herself at the age of 93 and could out-cook and out-work any of her family.
When asked how she kept on keeping on, she would often tell her children, "You have to learn how to change when life changes your circumstances and accept new ways of life as it comes. I always look for God's purpose in my life around each corner and strive to fulfill that purpose. Having purpose is a blessing, but you must fulfill it."
With a laugh, she would say, "My purpose now at 97 years old is to continue to boss all my kids and grandkids — ha-ha. All of my family still includes me as a vital part of the Bernard Clan."
Now, she is enjoying God's grace upon her.
Grace is survived by her two sons, Bill Bernard and his wife Cherry of Round Rock, TX; Bernie Bernard and his wife Paula Ann of College Station, TX; and a daughter, Paula Bagby of Sweetwater, TX.
She is also survived by numerous grandchildren: Brad Bernard and his wife Heather of College Station, TX; Sumer Perkins and her husband Shaun of Pflugerville, TX; Rachael Gaunt and her husband Russell of Aberdeen, Scotland; Sara Steger and her husband David of Dallas, TX; Joy Sembrick and her husband Brandon of Sweetwater, TX; Hope Schitoskey and her husband Jason of Sweetwater, TX; and Hal Hancock and his wife Deborah of Clarendon Hills, IL.
Grace is also survived by nine great-grandchildren with more on the way, as well as her half-sisters Nancy Dart and her husband Bert; and Joyce Kreger, both of Jacksonville, IL.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Casa Sonrisa, 3300 FM 1431, Round Rock, TX, 78681. This is a children's home in Mexico that Grace supported for years as she traveled on a bus and spent time at Casa Sonrisa.
Grace's funeral will be held on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 at 1 p.m., in the round white chapel of the Cook Walden Capitol Parks Funeral Home, 14504 N. IH-35, Pflugerville, TX, 78660.