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1927 Bernice Mae Hildebrandt 2024

Bernice Mae Hildebrandt

May 16, 1927 — April 10, 2024

Oshkosh

A new heavenly home was given to Bernice Mae (Graf) Hildebrandt on the morning of April 10, 2024 at her home after several years of declining health. A lifelong residence of Oshkosh, Bernice was born May 16, 1927. She was the youngest child of Walter and Esther (Dougherty) Graf. Walter passed away suddenly in September of 1949. Esther would later marry Elmer Green of Gladstone, MI, who had a young son, James.

 

She attended Schwarz Teacher Training School though the 8th grade. In her junior year of High School she left home to attend the Cosmetology School in Milwaukee in order to develop a career skill for her future. That school helped her find safe room and board with a family in the area. Upon completion, she then returned to Oshkosh and worked for a couple beauty salons before opening her own.

 

In December of 1949, she met the love of her life on a blind date arranged by her dear friend, Verna (Ackerman) Rueckert. Victor E. Hildebrandt proposed to her on or near Valentine’s Day of 1950 and they were married at First English Lutheran Church on a beautiful Fall day, October 14, 1950.

 

Vic and Bernice (also known as Beans, Beanie, Mrs. Beans, Aunt Beanie, Beadah) were parents to one daughter, Susan Lynn Shepard of Fox Crossing, Wisconsin.

 

So what is included in my parents’ dashes? (DOB – DOD) Oh, how the two of them were quite the team when it came to entertaining – Picnics with Potato Pancakes, Melon Boats, Grilling, and yummy desserts! Bernice loved collecting and then trying new recipes. They enjoyed gathering people for a fun, memorable time. Often these times included card playing.

 

Many summer family trips by car were enjoyed by this family of three – CA Disneyland in 1959, Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 to name a few as well as tent camping in the local area and at State Parks before moving on to having a trailer at Evergreen Campsites near Wild Rose and then later, one in Green Lake. Many fond memories were made at those places by many! Later in life, Vic and Bernice took bus trips to see beautiful spots in America; once they took the train to see Sue when she was still living in CA (Dad loved it, Mom not so much!), as well as flying different places to see the sights and/or to visit loved ones. 

 

When Sue started school, Vic and Bernice converted their back patio into a one sink, two dryer beauty shop. (They felt it was important that Mom be at the house when Sue got home from school.) The business name was “Hairport Beauty Salon” because we lived by the airport! Later on, Mom and Dad bought the Caramel Crisp when it was still on Main St. They owned this business for about 5 years. Mom also helped Dad with his bookkeeping when needed for his heating and air-conditioning business in Oshkosh, “The Custom Craftsman”. They were a hard-working couple!

 

Bernice loved gardening at her home on Ohio St. She was a member of the Oshkosh Garden Club for many years. She enjoyed her flowers at her condo even though she couldn’t really see them due to macular degeneration. She had a green thumb and sure knew how to nurse plants back to life!

 

Beans enjoyed playing golf. She would say she wasn’t very good at it but sure enjoyed being outdoors and having fun with the ladies she played with in Tuesday AM’s League of Nine-Holers mostly at “Muni”. Aunt Gina would have an Annual Golf Trip where many, many laughs and memories were made as a group of ladies would travel by bus to different golf courses in Wisconsin or Upper Michigan for three days to play their rounds as well as enjoying the evening activities at the restaurants and/or motels that had been arranged!

 

Beanie shared her gifts and talents with many. She enjoyed sewing, needlework, making cards on the computer, then went to stamping, and seemed to always be baking something. Extras were kept in the freezer to have on hand for company. Mom lived at a time when you often made your own clothing, home decoration, gifts, and meals. And she did enjoy learning new crafts. Along with other talented ladies from First English Lutheran Church, they would gather weekly to make things for the Annual Fall Church Bazaar and enjoy the fellowship with one another. Bernice was always on the look out for a new craft idea they could make. She was a busy lady!

 

Involvement at her church, First English Lutheran was a priority to her, serving in many ministries through the years. Also important to my parents was being involved in my life which included fun, safe gatherings and events with my girlfriends at 1948 Ohio or at the trailer! She thoroughly enjoyed life and enjoyed sharing it with others. Her smile and laughter brightened up a room.

 

Staying in touch with family and friends was important to her, although as her health deteriorated it got harder and harder for her to do that. She is survived by her grateful daughter, dear sister-in-law Cilla Green (Escanaba, MI), many loving nieces and nephews, delightful great nieces and nephews, various cousins, and faithful friends.

 

Preceding in death were her parents, husband Victor (3/21/05), son-in-law, Stephen J. Shepard (8/9/17), her older two brothers and their wives, Alvin (Gina) and Robert (Dorothy, Vivian), and many other beloved family members and friends.

 

Much gratitude needs to be extended to the many professionals that kindly navigated Mom’s health issues through these past eight years. A big thank you to Dr. John Weber and Nurse Molly for your faithful care and referrals all these years. The pharmacists at Shopko and then at Pic N Save were so helpful too. The specialists seen for her eyes in Green Bay, the neurologists in Oshkosh and Appleton for her pain, the physical therapists and occupational therapists at their offices and in her home, the kind Ambulance EMTS and the ER staff at Aurora with each event that took place, the nurses at Aurora when a hospital stay took place, Casey and Trish of the Palliative Care Team, the rehab staff at Evergreen Creekside and then Eden Meadows, and Aurora In-Home Care people are all so very much appreciated! A sincere thank you to Madonna (Massage Therapy) and Dorene (Hair) for your willingness to come to her home to do you work. And then there’s the Hospice Team from Aurora who so graciously helped us through this recent difficult time… Tammy (Social Worker), Chaplain Michelle, Nurses: Jessie, Jessica, Sandy, Gayle, and Lisa. My, what beautiful hearts and guidance you have and gave!

 

A special shout out to her two long-term caregivers, Roxy L. and Barb E. Oh how she enjoyed you two girls! 

 

Also, we are so grateful for her Fox Den neighbors, the many family members, our friends, and Sue’s church family who all helped with meals, sending cards, visits, and prayers. Thank you to the ladies from FELC’s Neighborhood Center who kept in touch when Mom could no longer attend on Wednesdays.

 

A charity of your choice may appreciate a donation in her memory. Mom often donated to Gideons International with “Military” marked on the memo so Bibles would be sent out to those serving the USA throughout the world. Joni and Friends was another organization she felt was important, because they were helping the disabled. Supporting youth camps was also on her heart as well as veterans.

 

Per her request she have been cremated and laid to rest beside “her Victor” in Peace Lutheran Cemetery. A Celebration of Life Gathering will take place this summer.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bernice Mae Hildebrandt, please visit our flower store.

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