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Bernice Peterson Jackson Dies

Bernice Peterson Jackson

Bernice Peterson Jackson, the second of two children, was born in 1928 on Sugar Hill in Harlem, New York. Her parents were Mr. Lorenzo Candido Petersen and Mrs. Maude Editha Clendinen-Petersen.

At the age of three, she and her father took a cruise to St. Thomas to visit her grandparents, Mr. Anthony Petersen and Mrs. Eugenie Gumbs-Petersen, who lived on Kongens Gade in the “Upstreet” community.  What a visit that turned out to be!  Embraced by loving relatives, Lorenzo was persuaded by his parents to remain on St. Thomas with Bernice, who would be united with her older brother, Valdemar, and her stepsister, Eunice Simmonds.

Pursuing her nursing career, Maude remained in New York during the early years of Bernice’s life. Bernice, being showered with love from family and friends, stayed on St. Thomas until she was 16 years old.

As an adult, Bernice would recall her memorable childhood around her grandparents and the family’s business enterprises, which included a dry goods store, gas station, taxi stand and one of the first auto repair shops.

Her grandmother, affectionately called “Ms. Gennie,” was one of the renowned bakers in “Upstreet.” Ms. Gennie had a team of domestic help that assisted with the daily household and business needs. She insisted that a girl had to know how things are done, whether she would ever have to do it herself or not. She was just as adamant about good manners.

Under her watchful eyes, Bernice learned how to manage a household. By observation, she learned the art of washing and ironing clothes properly, Virgin Islands culinary food preparation, the raising and slaughtering of chickens, the firing of a coal pot, cooking hearth and outdoor oven. She also learned the making of maubi, sweetbreads, shingle cakes and other delicacies.

The arrival of guests was followed by the dismissal of children from the parlor. But only after the visitors had been appropriately greeted.

The Petersen family compound and yard served many families over the decades. It was in this yard, and the neighboring areas, that Bernice amassed and enjoyed a wealth of childhood friends, many of them lasting a lifetime. The moonlight rides to the country in the back of her father’s 1928 Ford pickup truck, Wendell’s Theatre, Sunday church services, and swims at Long Bay have remained cherished memories for Bernice throughout her adolescent and adult life.

As a youth in the Upstreet community, Bernice attended the school at the northern end of Hospital Gade, formerly known as Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, (later renamed the J. Antonio Jarvis School), and the Charlotte Amalie Junior High School. Her cherished memory of this period was when she was chosen among all the schools in the St. Thomas district as Queen of May Day. Also, Bernice was the Statue of Liberty and the Red Cross nurse in programs.  In the 1940s, she and her mother would return to New York City, where she completed high school at Wadleigh High School in 1948.

Following in her mother’s profession, Bernice enrolled in nursing school. In 1950, she graduated as a licensed practical nurse from the Hospital for Joint Diseases – Helen Fluid School of Licensed Practical Nursing in New York. In the following years, Bernice worked at Presbyterian Hospital, Beekman Downtown Hospital, and Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital as nurse in charge and as an emergency room nurse.

In 1954, she married her childhood sweetheart, the late Hugo D. Jackson, a native Virgin Islander, in New York City. From their union, Myron D. Jackson and Sharon Jackson-McDonald were later born. After the loss of her beloved grandmother, Miss Gennie, and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Eseline Canton-Jackson, Hugo and Bernice returned home with their sons Myron and Ari Arri in 1959.  The young, enterprising couple, following in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, managed and expanded the family businesses over the next two decades. Hugo and Bernice grew their businesses to a greeting card, ice cream, toy store and restaurant.

Bernice continued her nursing profession and served in various positions in the Department of Health and other healthcare facilities over the next three decades. She served as a staff nurse in charge of the Newborn Nursery and Post-Partum Unit at Knud Hansen Hospital, and Queen Louise Home for the Aged. Bernice served as a school nurse at the Maternal and Child Health Care Division (MCH), where she retired from an illustrious nursing career in 1983.

After retirement, she worked in the office of the late Dr. Didace Monsanto, and was the supervisor and a case manager at the Catholic Social Services — Teen Age Pregnancy Case Management Program.

Her civic involvements included Den Mother of Cub Scouts, president of the Virgin Islands Licensed Practical Nurses National Association and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and We From Upstreet Inc.

In 1982, the tragic and untimely death of her husband, Hugo, ended her 27-year marriage to her faithful life partner. In the following challenging years, Bernice continued to be a guiding force for and to her family, godchildren and close friends.

A deeply spiritual person, Bernice gave generously of her talents and time to civic and church affairs. She has been instrumental in organizing the health ministry served on the Vestry, and Women Ministry, developed the Sign Language Program and committees at St. Andrew’s Church and has also served in various programs at Impacting Your World Christian Ministries.

Bernice continued to remember the fond memories of her beloved husband, Hugo, who participated and assisted the St. Andrew’s Men’s Choir. She was and continued to be grateful for the opportunity to serve. She felt that her spiritual growth had significantly benefited from her involvement and endeavor to serve her Lord. Her willing spirit also brought her certificates, honors, awards and numerous letters of commendation.

During her more active years, Bernice enjoyed traveling to visit family and friends, as well as nursing and church conferences in the region and the United States. Her support and love for her children, Ari Arri, Sen. Myron D. Jackson and Rev. Dr. Sharon Jackson McDonald; son-in-law, Rev. Dr. Gerald McDonald; grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family members; and the countless children and families she has served over the decades, is infinite and especially cherished.

Bernice rededicated her life to Jesus Christ in 1993. She praised God and thanked Him for His warm and loving presence in her life. In the subsequent years, Bernice remained active in family, church and community affairs, and she was a mother, mentor and counselor to many.

On Sunday, March 17, she quietly passed this life in the presence of family and friends from congestive heart failure.

Funeral Services for Bernice Peterson Jackson

First Viewing Blyden Chapel

Easter Sunday 4 pm – 6 pm

Homegoing Service

St. Andrews’s Episcopal Church

Second Viewing and Tributes

9 am -10 pm

Service

10 am

Internment

Western Cemetery No. 1

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