Bernice O. (Winkler) Vaughan, was born Sept. 12, 1915 in Meherrin Va., the sixth child and twin sister of Beulah (deceased 2010), to Preston and Irene (Streat) Winkler. Virginia records verify that her maternal grandfather, Sam Streat was the property of slave master David Streat (Prince Edward County, Virginia) and in 1848 was willed to his daughter Susan Streat at a value of $100. Her maternal grandmother was a mulatto named Louisa Banks Streat, whom all called “Grandma Lou”. Bernice often told stories of combing Grandma Lou’s hair that was so long she could sit on it.
Her paternal grandparents, born in Mecklenburg and Brunswick County, Virginia, were Lewis and Ann Winkler. As a young girl growing up in Virginia she attended and was baptized at the Levi Baptist Church and school. (In 2017, Levi honored her longevity.) Her mother died at an early age and Grandma Lou helped her dad raise Bernice and her other siblings. She and her twin Beulah would rotate school days in order to help with labor on the family farm.
On Dec. 2, 1932 in Meherrin, Virginia, she married her childhood friend and the love of her life, Edward Odell Vaughan (deceased 2005). Prior to his death, Bernice and Edward had spent over 75 years of married life together. From this union thirteen children were born: James Odell (deceased Vietnam 1965 casualty of war), Lovelena Lorraine (deceased 2008), Delores (deceased 1937); Walter (deceased 2019), Elizabeth, Marjorie, Beulah, Bernadine, Janice, Carrol, Robert, Garry and Tyrone Vaughan. In addition, she and her husband welcomed into their home Joe, William, Mike and Gill and treated them like sons.
She was the matriarch of the Vaughan/Winkler/Streat Family and was the oldest living of her twenty-three siblings; seven of whom are still alive.
In 2020 she celebrated 105 years of life, with family, friends and God’s blessing. Although we could not celebrate in the usual fashion, many came from near and far to celebrate her via a police and fire department escorted birthday parade. The Mayor of Baltimore City issued “A Mayoral Salute” on her behalf.
For many years her home was the Sunday gathering space for family and friends. She loved to cook and would feed anyone who came to visit. While all of the food was delicious, everyone loved her fried chicken and sweet potato pie. As her memory lessened, she loved to sit around the dining room table and “Testi-lie” about what she had done all day. Still feisty, yet sometimes moving slow and forgetful, you would for sure know what was on her mind without speculation. She loved French fries and Manischewitz blackberry wine.
To her Grandchildren she was the world. Her grandson and great grandson introduced her to Crown Apple, and she loved to have a shot with them. One grand-daughter often teased her about the years she worked for Mr. Sing, making Chinese Food, that conversation often ended with Granny telling her“ your mouth ain’t no prayer book and your A___ ain't no bible.” Don't ask her who cooked because she thought only one grand-daughter could cook for her. The grandchildren always showered her with love. Even as adults, they would sit on her lap or have her sit on theirs.
After working on the family farm for many years, Bernice started to work for the glass company, where she blew glass and made Christmas ornaments. Her career expanded, cleaning private homes and working at Bugle Laundry. Bernice later transitioned to custodian in the Baltimore City Public Schools, where she served for over 30 years. She extended her love and family by embracing the many children she interacted with on a daily basis. Even after retirement, she and her retired husband, worked with family and friends cleaning businesses throughout the state.
While she experienced many storms, she was always thankful that God allowed her many blessings to outweigh them all. She attributed her long life to her belief in God and knowing how to treat everyone. She accepted Christ at an early age while still in Meherrin, Virginia, and found a church home at Faith Baptist Church, upon moving to Maryland. Faith Baptist Church, the sister church to Levi, would serve as the spiritual foundation for her and her family. Sunday school and morning service were mandatory for her children. If they didn't go to church, they didn't get to have any other fun. She loved hymns and you would often hear her humming “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” You might even hear her holler “Oh Yeah.” She remained a member at Faith until God called her home.
She leaves to cherish her memory: nine children, Elizabeth L. Nesbit, Delores Marjorie Queen, Beulah J. Reeves, Bernadine V. Scruggs, Janice V. Faulkner, Carrol E. Vaughan Sr.(Marsha), Robert L. Vaughan,Sr., Garry M. Vaughan,Sr.(Suzanne), and Tyrone E. Vaughan ( Michael); seven siblings; Eva Juanita McCormick (George), Iva Estelle McCormick, Joyce Madison (Roger) of Gahanna, Ohio, Milton Carlyle Winkler (Cindy), Larry Winkler, Mabel Arlene Thompson (Darryl) of Brookhaven, Georgia, and Dennis Winkler (Angie), thirty-eight (38) grandchildren, seventy-five (75) great grands, fifty-four (54) great-great grands and six (6) great-great-great grands; godsons Joe, Mike and Gill; a special friend of over 50 years, Earlene “Early Pearly” Davis (who called Bernice B-Bop); special caretakers; her niece Gloria Frances Stern and Katherine “Kat” Dunham and a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends. She was the amazing foundation that kept our family together. To her family, her friends, her neighbors and so many more, she is and forever will be simply: