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Bernice Hemphill

Thursday, January 19, 2023
Bernice Hemphill

Bernice Ovon McDonald Hemphill celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends Sept. 17, 2022. After that milestone and two bone-fracturing falls, she passed away peacefully on Jan. 11, 2023.

She was laid to rest Jan. 16 beside her husband Lenon and near her parents and many other relatives in the Bateman Cemetery in Bastrop County, returning to the area of her beginning, going home.

Bernice (Bunt) was born at home near Red Rock in Bastrop County on Sept. 17, 1922. The family lived on and worked several farms along the Colorado River while Bernice was growing up.

The middle of five children and always eager to learn, Bernice skipped two grades. In order to graduate from high school, she roomed with and worked for a family in Bastrop. She graduated at 16, and then married William Lenon Hemphill on Nov. 11, 1939. They moved to Austin and had their first child Jerry in 1941. Later they moved to the Luling area, where Lenon worked in the oil field and trained calf roping horses and Bernice worked at Dismukes Pharmacy. In 1947, Linda Sue was born after Lenon competed at a calf roping that evening. He dropped Bernice at the Luling Hospital and then took the mare home.

In March of 1952, the Hemphill family of four, a quarter horse mare and a milk cow moved to the Crouch Ranch near Markham in Matagorda County. Danny was born that December. Lenon managed that wonderful ranch (home for his children) for 33 years, and Bernice worked at the First National Bank and Production Credit Association in Bay City, while Jerry, Sue and Danny attended and graduated from Sam Houston State, the University of Texas and Texas A&M, respectively.

While in Matagorda County, the Hemphills began building their own cattle herd on leased properties. Bernice also developed a love and competitiveness in tennis.

In 1985, Lenon retired from the Crouch Ranch, and he and Bernice bought 200 acres near Purmela. They later bought the 800+acre Brooks Ranch there, which had been owned by Wylie P. Grubb, a Texas Ranger. Bernice and Lenon celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1989 on their ranch with a catered barbecue for family and friends. Lenon passed away in August 1995.

Bernice remained in their Purmela home making countless beautiful quilts until she moved to Gatesville’s The Oaks in May 2021.

Along with Jerry, Sue and Danny, Bernice is survived by a daughter-in-law, Charlotte; (Danny’s beloved wife Susan passed away in the spring of 2022); seven grandkids; 15 great-grandkids; several Mc-Donald and Hemphill nieces and nephews as well as their progeny; and countless brothers and sisters in Christ.

Bernice’s family members attribute her active, healthy longevity to a lifetime of hard work, abstinence from tobacco and any over-indulgences, raising and eating good food, exercise and good Christian living.

She was an active member of the Church of Christ her entire life; she loved God, Jesus, the Church, her family and friends.

Her kids commented, “Mom was the hardest working human being we ever knew. She set an unattainably high bar for us to follow, and she dedicated her life to making ours better. She and Dad left us a legacy beyond our expectations, thanks to their hard work, good timely decisions and frugal lifestyle. No day-working cowboy ever went away hungry since Mom always prepared chicken-fried steak and the trimmings when we worked cattle.”

Bernice will be sorely missed but remembered well.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Hemphill family.