Brighton Standard Blade
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Author: The Staff
Bernice Ward, 105, of Brighton, died Jan. 29, 2012, in Wheat Ridge.
She was born Nov. 5, 1906, as the first of three daughters of L. V. and Ada S. Rutherford. Her younger sisters were Arlyne and Vera (who married Huett brothers and so they had the same last name). Her parents and grandparents farmed three and one-half miles south of Brighton near what is now Sable Boulevard and 132nd Avenue.
Bernice attended Pleasant Plains School from first through eighth grades. Her family moved to 53 S. 10th Ave., when Bernice was a teenager. The area near 10th Avenue and Bridge Street was then the east side of town, surrounded by alfalfa fields. She graduated in 1925 from Brighton High School . There were 32 graduates in her class, and Bernice played the organ for the ceremony.
Her family, the Rutherfords, were a musically talented family. Bernice’s mother played the piano, and her father played the violin. Her uncle played three instruments. After big family dinners, there was always musical entertainment. Bernice had piano lessons as a child.
After high school, Bernice worked evenings playing the organ as accompaniment for movies at the Realto Theater (later called the Rex Theater) in Brighton. She learned to play the huge Wurlitzer organ in twelve lessons.
Bernice attended Parks Business College in Denver for one year before she was offered a job in the Adams County Clerk & Recorder’s Office. Her father did some arm-twisting to get her a local job because she wanted to go to California for a job.
Bernice met Al Ward at a dance at the armory in Brighton just after her graduation. Al worked for the sugar factory at the time. He had been raised in Oklahoma and Kansas. They were married in 1927 and moved to Milliken to farm his father’s land. Bernice and Al had many hardships during their early married years. They lived through the Johnstown tornado and dealt with hail to their crops and frozen beet fields resulting in severe financial loss. While they lived in Milliken, their daughter, June, was born, but she later died of a heart problem at age 31/2, in 1932. Her death was two years after the Wards had moved back to Brighton. A son, Stanley, was born to Al and Bernice in 1932 in Brighton.
When Stanley was a child, Bernice worked as a bookkeeper and a proofreader for The Brighton Blade. She stayed at that job from 1934-1941, and then passed the civil service exam. She worked at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal for 14 months. In 1944, Bernice started work as the Clerk of the County Court and held that job for 21 years. At that time, the Wards lived in a house on South 4th Avenue, just south of the brick house where Bernice lived until her move to Inglenook. She lived on the same block for over 60 years! Al worked at the Arsenal for eight years after World War II. Then worked for the Brighton School District.
In 1965, Bernice moved to the Probate Court Clerk position and worked for four judges until she retired in 1974 at age 68. Al and Bernice enjoyed retirement years together until Al died in 1983. He teased her about being so busy with musical activities that it seemed she was not really retired. However, they did enjoy some traveling during those years.
She was a volunteer with the R.S.V.P. right after her retirement from the courts and was on the advisory board for the Brighton Senior Center. Bernice also played the piano for senior center functions and assisted with mailing the newsletters.
Bernice is survived by her son, Stanley (Delores) Ward, of Arvada; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters; husband, Al, in 1983; and daughter, June Ward in 1932.
Private family services will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Brighton Elks Club Scholarship Fund, 101 N. Main Street, Brighton, CO 80601.