Berniece Nichols celebrates 100th birthday in style

Sheriff Ronny Richardson, at right, had some extremely kind words for Berniece Nichols. His fond memories stretch back to when he was a student and Converse High and she worked in the cafeteria. Later, he’d return to the school as an educator and become closer to the centenarian. (Photo by Sabine Index/DJ)

By Daniel Jones, editor

Berniece Nichols had one heck of a birthday party to celebrate her 100 years at Sabine Retirement and Rehabilitation Center on February 1.

The facility’s cafeteria was packed to the rafters with family, friends, and a large number of well-wishers.  Also on the agenda, other than a number of tasty treats, was live Gospel music, with the birthday girl even offering a little singing herself.

When asked how to live to 100, she simply replied, “Take care of yourself and love the Lord.”

Berniece Elizabeth Barrett Nichols was born on February 1, 1919, to Elmer and Ethel Barrett in Mitchell.  She married her husband, William Samuel Nichols of Fisher in 1940.  Sadly, he passed away from a heart attack in 1960. 

He had come to Oak Grove to help build the new gym at the school when they met. 

Berniece had five children and one stepson.  Three of her children were stillborn.

“She has seen a lot of good and bad,” said Mayor of Many Ken Freeman.  “She has endured much and raised lots of great Christian children.”

Indeed, she has.

She worked at both the Oak Grove and Converse lunchrooms as a worker and manager.

“I graduated converse and remember those rolls she cooked,” Sheriff Ronny Richardson said at the event.

He also had fond memories of working alongside her when he returned as an educator to the school.

Nichols was a faithful member at Fellowship Baptist Church in Oak Grove and the First Baptist Church of Converse.

“She has the patience of Job and faith that can move mountains,” one granddaughter writes.  “She taught every member of her family right from wrong, to love Jesus, and how to survive hard times.  She treated people the way Jesus would’ve wanted you to treat them.”

Bernice also has a toughness to her.  She knows how to use a cross-cut saw, axe, and shovel.  She drew water from wells and washed closes in a wash pot.  Of course, she also took care of her lawn and loved to rake and burn leaves.  When she went to work and church, she walked both there and back.

She is regarded as a queen of her family, especially since her middle name is Elizabeth.  Several family members carry on the name.

Her family, quite simply, thinks she is the best mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother there is or ever has been.  

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