On November 17th of 1946 in Greene County, Georgia; Bernice Jean (Bishop) Criddell, the third of 5 children, was born to the late Essie Mae (Foster) Bishop and the late Edward Bishop. Through her mother’s teachings and example, Bernice came to know Christ at an early age.
Bernice was educated in the Georgia Public School System and attended Floyd T. Corry High School.
In the early 1960s, Bernice, along with family, relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania. Always marching to the beat of her drum, Bernice returned to Georgia where she met her husband, Frederick Criddell, Sr.
From this union, the 3 loves of her life were born: Christopher; Frederick, Jr.; and Marion affectionately known as “Bruce.” The family would then relocate to Clearwater, Florida. During her time in Florida, Bernice worked as a laundress while pursuing her personal passions of painting and sewing. The family would later relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1976, she returned to Reading, Pennsylvania. Taking odd jobs as a domestic worker and in a restaurant, Bernice worked diligently to ensure a firm foundation for her boys. Patient, loving, and protective and having an affinity for children; she would soon see her life’s purpose as a caretaker. She was most diligent and caring in this task. A responsibility she took much pride in.
Countless family members, friends, neighbors, and strangers alike could stop by 208 North 4th Street at any time and count on Bernice to provide a loving and safe environment for their children, on top of a good home cooked meal. Her methods of child-rearing were second to none, and it was to no surprise seeing her caring for the babies of individuals she had raised as babies.
An avid cook, Bernice’s mac-and-cheese was always worth the wait. If she wasn’t preparing a delicious meal, you would find her easily binge watching a Lifetime movie, home improvement shows on TLC, or one of her daily soap operas.
Bernice was one of few words, but she will be remembered for her off the cuff comments and straight-forward opinions. She was the standard of tough love. Her care and concern for others was always genuine. She was the most forgiving person, but she would never forget. Her life affected many and the depth of her love was felt by all who had the opportunity to know her.
On Monday, September 13th at Penn State Health St. Joseph’s, The Lord did an assessment and saw his soldier, Bernice, getting weary. He saw her tired of the medicine, the doctor’s appointments, and the treatments. So with her loving family gathered around, He gently whispered in her ear, “Mission Complete.” There to welcome her to her new home was her mother, Essie; her sisters: Classie, Virginia, and Betty; her great-grandson, Little Bruce; and her forever protector, her son Fred.
Left to cherish her memory are her prides and joys, her sons: Christopher Bishop (Antoinette) and Marion “Bruce”” Criddell. Her beloved brother, Melvin Bishop and sister-in-law, Darlene. Her much cherished grandchildren: Bruce, Fred III, Shidera, Jamaari, Nichole, and Michael, as well as her great-grandchildren. Bernice also leaves behind those who were blessed to call her “Aunt,” three dear nieces, Jeannette Bridges (Michael); Pamela Clement (John); and Dr. Chanelle Bishop-Gilyard (Kenny) along with her only and very special nephew, Larry Foster, Sr. (Michelle). Included in the host of family and friends that will miss her dearly are two special cousins, Lily Mae Williams and “Williene “Dee Dee” Williams. Lastly, Bernice leaves behind a very special extension of her family who assisted in the care of her, Diane Smith.
She will be tremendously missed by all who knew her.
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