On Friday, November 23, 2018 Thelma Bernice Prather Howard, departed this life peacefully at the age of 97. Born on September 24, 1921 in Goshen MD, she was the daughter of the late Darius and Sarah Copelin Prather, the middle of nine children and widow of the late Manning Colston Howard.
Bernice (known by her middle name) grew up on the family’s farm in Goshen, living what she described as a “happy childhood”. Her home was filled with laughter and warmth and she often talked about her father’s love of poetry. The farm activities included riding horses, feeding chickens and other chores. However, the most cherished and memorable times were shared with her siblings. She often talked about teasing her brothers and remembering the childhood pranks that they played on each other. Bernice also grew up in a musical family, each family member could sing or play a musical instrument and some enjoyed playing in the “Charlie Ross Band”. Bernice had a gift for playing the piano by ear and loved playing her favorite hymns.
As a devoted wife and mother, she was a homemaker whose family was the center of her universe. She especially enjoyed participating in activities such as Girl Scouts with her daughters and was a Girl Scout leader for several years. She had a love of nature and the outdoors and enjoyed taking the Girl Scouts on camping trips. She also participated in the Montgomery County Homemakers where she learned many skills that she shared with her daughters.
Bernice was an active member of Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church after transferring from Goshen United Methodist Church. She participated in United Methodist Women, the Choir, Usher Board, Board of Child Care and various committees – Pastor Parrish, Finance, Stewardship, Religion and Race, Worship and Sunday School; especially enjoyable was serving alongside many dedicated members who helped with preparing and serving dinners at the church for various functions. She often said that she was happy to serve wherever she was needed.
Bernice had a passion for community, political and civic affairs. As family and friends knew, she was quite vocal in giving her opinion, she would often advocate concerns by making regular calls to Congressmen, Senators, County Executives and even the White house. Some family members recall hearing her call talk-radio to give her opinions regarding various issues. At one point when she had not heard from her granddaughter Kim while in the Peace Corps in West Africa, she began calling the U.S. Embassy to demand their help in locating her granddaughter, her calls resulted in finding Kim in rural Africa. She was also very involved in the NAACP, arranging for the transportation for church and community members to attend the March on Washington in August 1963. She often attended the Montgomery County Council meetings, the City of Rockville committee meetings and assisted the Board of Elections during voting.
But above all, she loved her family and they were all blessed by her life. Her daughters loved their mother and honored her in life by working to ensure her good care until the age of 97. Her siblings remained close often getting together to celebrate birthdays and milestones. Her grandchildren have beautiful memories of their “feisty grandma” who they adored, and her great-grandchildren will remember “Gigi’s” loving hugs and warm kisses on their necks.
Bernice leaves treasured memories and is survived by three daughters, Doris Jordan (Steve), Wilhelmina Young (Robert, deceased) and Yvonne Annette Taylor; five grandchildren, Kim C. Jordan, Karen R. Faucette (Wendell), Robert L. Young, lll (Tanya), Damon H. Young (Angela), Felicia Y. Taylor (Steve) and eight great-grandchildren - Alexis Faucette, Anais Jordan, Collin and Carson Young, Coleman and Dane Young, Arielle and Ayden Allison. Her husband, Manning, died December 24, 1991. She is also survived by one sister Marjorie Johnson, one brother-in-law Benjamin Jackson and two sisters-in-law, Virgie Prather and Jestina Stewart. She was preceded in death by two sisters, Celestine Hebron and Laverne Jackson, five brothers, Darius, Thomas, Roosevelt, Stanley and Theodore Prather. She will be missed by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.
…one of Bernice’s favorite poems spoken frequently by her father, Darius:
In the course of human events, there are five things you must observe with care – TO whom you speak, OF whom you speak, HOW, WHEN and WHERE (Caroline L. Ingalls)