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A dedicated caregiver, Sr. Geraldine Bernards spent 39 years at Maryville as a nurse, director of nursing and administrator



A Vigil Service and Mass of Christian Burial was held May 17-18 to celebrate the life of former Maryville Administrator Sister Geraldine Bernards, who died May 14 at the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse. She was 85.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sr. Geraldine Bernards

The Vigil Service was held on Sunday and was followed by a Mass of Christian Burial on Monday, both at the chapel of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse. Interment took place on Tuesday in the Sisters' Cemetery.

Sr. Bernards was born Dec. 18, 1929, in Forest Grove, and received her early education at Visitation School in Verboort, then Sacred Heart Academy in Tillamook, and later at St. Mary of the Valley in Beaverton. She graduated from St. Mary of the Valley High School (now known as Valley Catholic) in 1947.

She was received as a novice by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1949 and became known as Sister M. Edward Ellen until she returned to her baptismal name after Vatican II.

Before pursuing a nursing ministry, Sr. Bernards served at the SSMO Motherhouse in the kitchen, milk cellar, guest department, bakery and sewing room.

In 1961, she earned a license as a practical nurse from St. Peter School of Practical Nursing in Olympia, Wash. When Maryville (originally known as Maryville Nursing Home) opened in 1963, she was ready to join the staff. In 1970, she completed course work to become a registered nurse.

Described as a “quiet leader whose heart was wrapped around Maryville,” Sr. Bernards served at Maryville for 39 years. She spent 23 years as director of nursing and 10 as Maryville administrator. During those years, Maryville grew dramatically. It now offers long-term skilled care for residents, short-term physical rehabilitation, memory care and an Alzheimer’s unit.

After retiring from Maryville in 2004, Sr. Bernards enjoyed a sabbatical year. However, her heart remained at Maryville and she continued to volunteer as a Eucharistic minister until she suffered a stroke in 2008.

SSMO Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx said, “Although quiet by nature, Sister Geraldine possessed a wonderful sense of humor. Her quick wit and one-liners could not be topped. She had a generous and loving heart, not only for the residents at Maryville, but also for their families and for the staff.”

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