Bernice Baker Criswell was born in Hysham, Montana on September 27, 1920 to Bernard and Estella Broadbent Baker, the eldest of seven children. She attended the Bear Creek grade school at the home ranch south east of Hysham, graduating from the Hysham High School.
Bernice and Howard “Skinny” Criswell were married in Forsyth on January 1, 1939. Howard was employed by D.M. Manning Construction, which entailed following construction jobs for a few years. He was called into the service on October 1942. Bernice went to work as an operator at the local telephone office for one year, and then served one year as a city clerk for the town of Hyham. She then went to work at the Rosebud Community Hospital in Forsyth until Howard’s discharge from the Army Air Force in 1945. They lived at the home ranch for a short time and Bernice taught the Beaver Creek School on Sarpy finishing out a term vacated by a teacher.
They returned to Hysham and ran a boarding house while building a new home. Howard resumed employment with Manning Construction and Bernice went to work for the Agricultural Stabilization Service as a Secretary, later becoming Office Manager.
They moved to Miles City in April 1959, having bought a motel and trailer court. The motel was sold in 1969 and they moved out into the Yellowstone Valley on a ten acre irrigated plot, on which they built a new home. They enjoyed twenty years of country life, improving their property, raising a few sheep and gardening.
While living in the country Howard worked a few years as maintenance man for the schools and Eagles Manor. Bernice was a receptionist for the Custer Veterinary Clinic. The fall of 1988 brought complete retirement. They sold their home and moved back into Miles City. January 1, 1989 they celebrated fifty years together. Howard passed away in July 1993. Bernice became involved in volunteer work and served for twenty plus years, and remained active in her organizations.
She was a Charter member and past President of the Hysham American Auxiliary; Past President of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served a two year term as State Secretary; member of the Bathe Zabbia Temple #21 and Daughters of the Nile in Billings and served as an officer in the Nile for two years; she was instrumental in organizing a Nile Club in Miles City of which she is a Charter member and past president. She belonged to Eastern Star and was Worthy Matron the only time Grand Chapter was held in Miles City. She also is a member of the Range Rider Reps and Past Matron of Eastern Star. She was a dedicated volunteer; one of her most cherished accomplishments was running the Bloodmobile in Miles City.
She loved to dance and play cards, especially Pinochle, and fully enjoyed sewing and her many craft projects. Her vegetable and flower garden always looked like a picture in a magazine. She was an avid accomplished seamstress and quilter creating many beautiful items for her family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, three sisters; Beth, Betty and Edith; two brothers, Bill and Bob.
She is Survived by a sister, Nadine Stack of Mt. Angel Oregon; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews; a special niece, Denise Batey, and her husband, Randy.