She led a very active life and was currently still the administrator of Gray's Nursing Home in Platteville.
Bernice moved from Roberts when she was 15 years old to live with her Uncle Dr. Harold Fillbach, founder of the Fillbach Hospital in Hazel Green.
She graduated from Hazel Green High School in 1931 and went to Methodist Hospital School of Nursing in Madison, and graduated in 1935. The day she graduated from training she took a bus back to Hazel Green and started working that night for Dr. Harold Fillbach.
After her marriage they lived in the Madison and Milwaukee area for several years where she was a nurse.
She returned to become director of nurses at Hazel Green Hospital from 1958 to 1964. In 1965 she decided there was a need for more medical care for the elderly.
In May 1965, she purchased Gray's Nursing Home and has been a big caregiver in the Platteville area every since.
She was one of the original founders of Heartland Health Care Center (formerly Parkview Terrace) in Platteville. She was also one of the organizers of the House of Peace in Platteville.
She has been recognized and presented with many awards throughout the years.
In 1982 she was named one of Wisconsin's Most Admired Senior Citizens, listed in Who's Who of American Women in 1983-1984, Small Business Woman of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 1985, received the Masonic Community Service Award in 1988, and the Kiwanis Plaque of Recognition in 2000 for being the longest serving active nursing home administrator in the state of Wisconsin. She is credited for beginning the Southwest Wisconsin District Nurses Association. She had served on the advisory committee of the Southwest Wisconsin Vocational Technical Institute in Fennimore from 1980-1985. On her 90th birthday in 2003, she received a Certificate of Commendation for her nursing service from the age of 14, from Governor Doyle and the state of Wisconsin.
She also received the Chamber of Commerce award for 40 years of Nursing Home service in May 2005.
She is survived by a granddaughter, Lisa Schmitt of Platteville; four great-grandchildren, Cody Klein, Jamie, Brittany and Dakota Schmitt; niece, Cassandra Fillbach of Platteville; other nieces; nephews; family; and friends; but most importantly by her caring Gray's Nursing Home family, employees, and residents.
Her loving memory will continue to be carried on by the Gray's Nursing Home and employees. She was preceded in death by her mother and father; husband, Eldon Gray, in November 1987; daughter, Pamela Kieffer in July 1988; son, Dennis Gray, in March 1967; two infant sons; grandson, Timothy Long, in April 1993; and brothers, Oliver, Arthur, Dale, Bert and Francis Fillbach. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in her memory to Gray's Nursing Home. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, June 2, 2005, at 11 a.m. at the LUTHERAN CHURCH OF PEACE, Platteville. Visitation will be on Wednesday, June 1, 2005, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the BENDORF FUNERAL HOME, Platteville, and from 10 a.m. until the time of the service Thursday at the church. The Bendorf Funeral Home, Platteville, is serving the family.