Lillian Bernice Smith West was born August 23, 1921 to Ben V. Smith and Nealie Townsend Smith on the south bank of the Blanco River across from her Smith grandparents home. Bernice was to spend the rest of her long life on the banks of the Blanco River within a few miles of where she was born.
Bernice grew up in rural Blanco, attending school and church at McKinney and later school in town. She graduated from Blanco High School in 1939 and worked at the Blanco Theatre, the Blanco Schools and as bookkeeper for the Rock Garage on the Square.
Bernice married the love of her life, Weldon E. West, on July 5, 1941 and shortly thereafter Weldon was called to serve his country in World War II leaving Bernice with her first child. Weldon was to be gone for four years. After the war, Bernice and Weldon had 10 more children, 4 boys and 6 girls. During the many years spent in raising her family, Bernice was active in all of her children’s endeavors, 4H, Cub Scouts, Boy and Girl Scouts, PTA, Band Boosters, and anything else that caught the interest of her numerous brood.
In 1970, Weldon died of cancer leaving Bernice with 7 children still at home. Bernice went back to work for the first time since World War II and successfully raised and educated her children as a single parent before there was even a word for it.
Bernice was a strong-willed, opinionated, generous woman with two great passions and joys in her life, her family foremost and then her genealogy and history. She worked tirelessly on both, always supportive and encouraging her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. If there was a ballgame, Bernice was there. If anyone had a question on local history or genealogy, she would answer it if she could or find the answer if she couldn’t.
Until her death, Bernice was active in the Blanco Historical Committee, the Blanco County Historical Committee, the Citizens Advisory Committee for Blanco ISD and the Old Blanco County Courthouse Society. Bernice was extremely proud of her family heritage and their place in history. She was a member of the Daughters of the Revolutionary War, Alamo Heroes of the Republic of Texas, First Families of Texas, and the Colonial Dames. Bernice was a member of Eastern Star #934 and a faithful member of the Blanco Church of Christ.
Bernice departed this life on January 19, 2011, leaving eight children: William Weldon, Michael Flannery, Nealie Jane, Annie Janice, Hollis Sue, Lew Massey, Sheila Elizabeth and Neil Craig. She is also survived by her sister Jo Ann Bearden and a brother-in-law L.B. Polley. Also surviving are 29 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. Bernice was preceded in death by her husband Weldon, three children, Bennie Edward, Sarah Beth, and Ann Nell, her parents Ben and Nealie Smith as well as her beloved grandparents Val and Annie Smith and George and Mille Townsend.
Bernice will be laid to rest next to the love of her life, Weldon, in McKinney Cemetery at the completion of a long, full life, but she will forever live in the hearts and minds of all who loved her.
Visitation will be at Crofts Funeral Home, Blanco from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday, January 21. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 22, at the Blanco Church of Christ.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to The Old Blanco County Courthouse.