Bernice Bertha (Stepper) Watson

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Bernice Bertha (Stepper) Watson of Lewistown, 78, passed away Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

The story begins with her birth on a farmstead outside of Terry. She was born on April 14, 1940 at the farmstead with her oldest sister helping bring her into the world, as was common in those days. The proud parents of this bundle of joy were Robert and Frieda (Gaub) Stepper. She was the sixth of eight children in the family.

Her first spoken language was German until she entered school. She excelled in school and loved to read. She even tried to read the entire Terry School library. She loved sports and even played basketball until she injured her knee, making it hard to play. Bernice left her home in Terry to attend a Lutheran high school in Mobridge, South Dakota.

After high school she went to Elkhart, Indiana to seek a higher education. Nursing was her choice because it was what most women went into in the 50’s. In a short time of studying she decided the study of plasma and illness interested her. She changed course and became a medical tech and phlebotomist, try saying that five times. During her studies she took odd jobs around campus making money to pay her brother back for the financial help he gave her.

When Bernice graduated she accepted a job at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lewistown. While in Lewistown a handsome young cowboy, Fay Watson, saw her and fell in love with her. He rode up on his horse, put a dally around his saddle horn and roped the heart of the prettiest girl. On Dec. 15, 1961, they were married in Lewistown. Their honeymoon plans were foiled by a snowstorm so they had to spend it in Harlowton.

From this union a daughter Jocelyn (Buttons) was born. She was nicknamed Buttons because of her cute button nose. Not satisfied with just one, they had another child, a boy they named Jade. After a brief respite they decided to increase the family size so along came Jason. And finally in keeping with the round numbers they decided to have one more and JoNette appeared on the scene.

The couple’s sense of adventure took them to Whitefish for a short time. Bernice got tired of being hemmed in by all the trees and they moved back to Lewistown to raise their family.

Bernice worked off and on through the years at the old hospital in the lab, for Jason Shobe’s lab located in the Montana Building and back at the new hospital. She loved what she did and it was evident in her 25 years of service as a lab technician. She was a member of the American Medical Technologists Association for 50 years.

She loved taking care of her family and their friends, watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, doing cross word puzzles, reading, embroidering pillowcases and enter contests by mail.

Bernice was preceded in death by her mother and father, her husband Fay Watson, sister Lillian and her husband Carl Fisher, brother Water and his wife Betty Stepper, brother Leo Stepper, brothers-in-law Leland Bodin, Jack Polivka and Fred Violet, and daughter-in-law Bonni Joy (Bawden) Watson.

She is survived by her sisters Ruth Bodin, Evelyn Violet and Delores Polivka, brother Robert (Sandy) Stepper, sisters-in-law Marjorie Stepper and Edna Stepper, children Jocelyn Auberry, Jade (Laurel) Watson, Jason Watson, and JoNette (Wayne) Lelek, grandchildren, Grace and Josh Gallagher, Ericksen, Alexander and William Watson, Katelynn, Sophie, Silvanus and Isaac Watson, Nathan (Julie) Lelek, Noah Lelek, Hilary (Tyler) Whetstone, greatgrandchildren, Daniel, Tiana, Thomas and Anlisa Scruggs, Jasmine Pacheco, Logan, Jamison and Wyatt Gallagher, Ainslie, Naomi, Jonas, Eliza and Eliana Lelek, Violet and Quinn Whetstone and many nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held on March 23 at the Central Baptist Church in Lewistown. Joins us at 11:30 for a potluck and remembrance.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lewistown Public Library, Hospice of Lewistown or charity of choice.

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