Mrs. Bernice Helen (nee: Kosterman) Zens, 91, passed away at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Kenosha on Saturday, December 26, 2009.
Bernice was born in Racine on June 6, 1918, to the late Charles and Catherine (nee: Komas) Kosterman and lived most of her life in Racine. She was united in marriage to Edward N. Zens in Racine on October 22, 1949. He preceded her in death on November 21, 1999.
Bernice earned her degree in nursing and was employed as a pediatric nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Orphanage in Chicago. She was also employed by S.C. Johnson and Sons until her marriage and was a devout member of St. Edward’s Catholic Church for many years.
She is survived by her son, Paul (Mary) Zens; daughters, Barbara (James) Hantschel and Gail (Steven) Pollock; grandchildren, Brian Zens, David Zens, Rebecca (John) Bohn, Allison (Anthony) Sansone, Paul Hantschel, Kristin Hantschel, Laura Pollock, and Elizabeth Pollock; brother Norbert (Margaret Mary) Kosterman; sister LaVerne Golden; sister-in-laws, Helen Spiering and Mary Liedick; and numerous other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents and eight siblings; Raymond, Verna, Marie, Ruth, Caroline, Dorothy, Charles and Rita.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Bernice will be held at St Edward’s Catholic Church, 1430 Grove Ave., on Thursday, December 31, 2009, at 11 a.m. with Father Allen Bratkowski officiating. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Hwy 32. Relatives and friends may meet with the family at the church from 9 a.m. until the time of service. Memorials in memory of Bernice to St. Edwards will be appreciated.
It's hard to explain the power of her presence to someone who's never been fixed by that kind of determination, the kind that carries you through two wars and a Great Depression, ten brothers and sisters and three children and eight grandchildren and a world that changed so much from the beginning of her life to the end that she barely recognized it.
Until her fingers could hardly hold the clothespins, she hung the washing on a line in the back yard to dry. She'd stand at the top of the stairs and yell down the names of all the kids and grandkids and everyone else she knew until she got to the one who answered. She said the rosary and went to church until she couldn't. She fought until she couldn't, too, to live the life she wanted to, one in which her table always had a place for family and her porch swing a seat for anyone who needed her comfort or advice.
When she was in the hospital four years ago, she got the nurses to sneak her candy and when one couldn't find a vein to draw blood she offered to stick herself. She let her daughter wear her wedding dress as a Halloween costume and taught her grandchildren to make perfect pie crusts. Two weeks before she died she was instructing the aides in her nursing home about what kind of cupcakes to make for their children.
Everyone's world spun on her axis, the strong center around which our joy revolved. Life without her seems impossible. But she's gone, and life is possible. She made it possible.
Wilson Funeral Home
1212 Lathrop Ave., Racine 262-634-3361