Bernice Wade

Obituary of Bernice Wade

Bernice Verta Stiles Wade (born April 20, 1915) of Chapel Hill, NC died peacefully at home on the morning of May 5, 2018, after a brief illness. She was the twin sister of the late Barbara Stiles. The twins shared a home on Gimghoul Rd. for nearly 40 years. Their spring garden, identified by “The Garden is Open” sign in their front yard, was well known and visited by friends near and far.

The twin sisters grew up with two more sisters and a brother in Miami, Arizona, the children of Bessie Reed and Everett Stiles. They graduated from Arizona State Teacher’s College (now Northern Arizona University) in 1937. They taught for several years in Arizona before following separate career paths.

In the summer of 1941 they took a vacation to Alaska where Bernice met a young man from North Carolina named Rogers Wade, whom she married in 1942.  In 1944, as Rogers joined Hospital Savings Association (it later became Blue Cross Blue Shield), they moved to the house on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill where they raised their two daughters Barbara (Babs) & Anne. 

Bernice taught 6th grade at Chapel Hill Elementary School and earned her Master’s degree. She became Supervisor of Instruction in the Chapel Hill Public Schools and received her PhD at UNC-CH in 1964. She became a Professor of Education at North Carolina Central University, where she helped develop an innovative teacher education program. Bernice retired in 1973 and traveled extensively with her husband Rogers until his death in 1979, particularly enjoying their drives through Mexico in a little Datsun and later in their Winnebago RV.

In 1978, Bernice's twin sister, Barbara, retired from many years of working with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and joined Bernice in Chapel Hill. Bernice and Barbara spent the next decades living together on Gimghoul Road, enjoying family, traveling throughout the world and creating their spectacular garden known as The Sisters’ Garden. On Barbara's death in 2016, Bernice remained the steward of the garden, hosting an annual November tulip planting event. She loved sharing lively conversations with her many year-round visitors about politics, science, history, travel and, of course, gardens.

Bernice is survived by two daughters Barbara Wade Warren (Ralph Warren) and Anne Wade, a granddaughter Paige Warren (Lynn Adler), a grandson Brian Warren (Andrea Rorrer), four great-grandchildren and many other much beloved nieces, nephews, great-nieces/nephews, and great-great-nieces/nephews, as well as a very large extended family of friends. She will be much missed by all.

A small, private service with immediate family will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations can be made in Bernice's name to the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s Battle Park Intern Program (NC Botanical Garden, Campus Box 3375, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3375) or to the charity of your choice.


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