Bernice Wood

Obituary of Bernice Wood

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Bernice Donnelly ("Bobbie") Wood died on June 2, 2006 at her home in Rossmoor of Walnut Creek after a short illness. She was 105 years old. Born September 27, 1900, her life span included three different centuries, three months in the nineteenth, all of the twentieth, and more than five years in the twenty-first. She was born in Burlingame, CA "on the dining room table," as she liked to tell friends. Her parents were Carrie (Terry) and Daniel Webster Donnelly. She spent her earliest years living in a house built by her pioneer grandfather John Donnelly, who also built the first house in that new community. He had purchased the property from a Mr. William Corbett, father of prizefighter Gentleman Jim Corbett who would later defeat John L. Sullivan to become heavyweight champion. At age six Bobbie moved with her family to San Mateo. Her mother, from Fairhaven, MA, was from a family of considerable artistic talent. Bobbie's uncle was Paul Terry, creator of Terry Toons that featured superhero "Might Mouse." Bobbie's cousin is Alexander Anderson, the creator of "Crusader Rabbit" and "Bullwinkle Moose." Her mother worked in woods, metals, and ceramics, and Bobbie's apartment at Rossmoor was full of furniture and furnishings created by her mother. Bobbie herself loved to weave and had two looms on which she produced her own creations. She also enjoyed leatherwork. Bobbie had vivid memories of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the evacuees who were given refuge at her house after the disaster. She was one of the several honored guests recently at the Fairmont Hotel during the centennial observance of that historic event. After her father died in 1907, she and her family moved to San Francisco where she attended both Pacific Heights and Denman Elementary Schools, followed by Lowell High School. After high school they moved again, this time across the bay to Berkeley to minimize commuting expenses as she attended U.C. Berkeley. She graduated in 1923 with a B.A. degree in Foreign Trade. Her brief career with American Finance and Commerce Co. was cut short when that company became victim to the Great Depression. In April of 1929 Bobbie married Howard Wood of Danville, a long-time family friend and a classmate at Berkeley. Howard majored in Civil Engineering, earning both Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi scholarship honors. After graduation he went to work for the State Department of Bridges (now part of CalTrans). Their first home was in Sacramento, but for most of their married life they lived in Berkeley where they provided room and board for several Latin-American college students. Some of those students became life-long friends. Howard was actively involved in the design and construction of both the original Carquinez Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. At the time of his retirement in 1962 and for several years prior, he was the Director for all toll bridges crossing San Francisco Bay. He also served a term as President of the San Francisco chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Bobbie's life-long hobby was gardening. In particular she enjoyed raising orchids in her greenhouse in Berkeley. She continued to raise and enjoy her potted plants until just a few weeks before she died. Bobbie loved to travel. As a young lady, she accompanied her mother on a lengthy ocean cruise, visiting several countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. She particulary remembered Egypt where she bought a scarab ring. The scarab , a bettle regarded as a symbol of long life, apparently did its job as Bobbie wore the ring until well after her one-hundredth birthday. During their marriage, Bobbie and Howard took several lengthy vacations to Europe and to Central and South America. After he retired they and another couple drove their Volkswagon bus through Europe for six months. Bobbie also had fond memories of a trip to the African continent. Her community service included duties as a Campfire Girl leader for a troop of blind girls. During World War II she served with the American Women's Volunteer Service, tailoring uniforms for military personnel, meeting ships, providing taxi service, and making blankets and slippers. In her later years she was an active member of Youth Homes, sewing and knitting items for sale in their thrift shop. Bobbie and Howard lived the last years of his life at Rossmoor, but following his death in 1972 Bobbie moved to Lafayette. She stayed there until moving back to Rossmoor in 1992. She had no brothers or sisters nor children of her own, but maintained close and loving relationships with a large extended family including Don and Marianne Wood, Jim and Lisa Wood and their children Emilie and Eric, Cynthia and Marc Rivera and their daughter Danielle, David Wood, Libby Wood, Charlie and Mary Wood and their children Catherine and Erin, Tom Wood, Alex and Pat Anderson, Terry and Naomi Anderson, Scott and Rosemary Anderson, Judy Dewitt, June Whipple, Rick Whipple, Christine (Kitty) Harrington, Julie Spicer, Miriam Wehrend, David Whipple and Steve Whipple. Interment was at the Alamo Cemetery where a brief graveside memorial service was held. Donations in her memory may be made to Museum of the San Ramon Valley, P.O. Box 39, Danville, CA 94526.
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Bernice Wood

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Bernice Wood

1900 - 2006

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