Bernice Geraldine Chilcoat, 87, died December 9, 2020, at Julia Manor Nursing Home where she’d resided for three-and-a-half years. Bernice was born in Oakland, California, on November 4, 1933, the daughter of Edward Freitas and Mary Rodrigues Freitas.
A young G.I. from Maryland, Private Allen Chilcoat, swept Bernice off her feet and the two were married six weeks later in Reno, Nevada, on her seventeenth birthday. While Al pursued his career, Bernice managed a busy home of four children. Because she left school to be married, Bernice studied for and passed the GED as an adult to set a fine example for her family. Over time, she worked as a school bus driver in Carroll County, Maryland, and served as a guiding influence in the lives of her children, twelve grandchildren, and many of their friends.
She was a member of the Hagerstown Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she served in a variety of capacities over the years. She particularly loved teaching Sunday School to the youth. She and Al were also involved with Smithsburg youth sports and the local Boy Scout troop, and they dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the families being served by the local dialysis center.
She and Al were married for forty-nine years before Al passed away in 2000. Besides her husband Allen, Bernice is predeceased by her parents and three bothers—Raymond Freitas, Norman Freitas, and Robert Fraga. Surviving are two daughters and four sons—Steven Allen and wife Kathy of Newark, Delaware; Laura Lewis and husband Thomas of Saratoga Springs, Utah; James Curtis and wife Cindy Lou of Greencastle, Pa; Valerie Francis Sipes and husband Marty Brandenburg of Frederick, MD; Frank Allen of Williamsport; Michael Paul and wife Debbie of Huntington, Pennsylvania, and ten grandchildren—Cassandra Sandoval, Patricia Chilcoat, Tifani Schaffer, Thomas Lewis III, Amanda Lewis Long, Adam Lewis, Joshua Lewis, Nichole Sawyer, Bradley Chilcoat, Christopher Chilcoat; and twenty great-grandchildren.
A private family service will be held on Tuesday, December 15 at Rest Haven Funeral Home. Following the service, Bernice will be interred beside her husband in the Rest Haven Cemetery.
Bernice was a wonderful wife to Allen, our father and grandfather, and a mother and grandmother not just to her own children, but to all those who entered her home and needed to be loved.