Bernice Watson Smith was born to Walter and Roberta Watson on July 30, 1932. Bernice was raised in Brenham, Texas and later, the Watson family relocated to Austin, Texas. Bernice attended schools in the Austin Public School System. In her early years, Bernice was a lead singer of The Religionaires singing group from Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. This talented six-member group consisted of Dorothy Griffin, Billie Holmes, Christine Patton, Bobbie Smith and Delores Sneed. The group even produced a record!
On March 14, 1952, Bernice married Willie James Smith, Sr., and had two children. She was a devoted wife and mother and loved her family. Bernice and Willie were married for more than 60 years prior to his passing in March 2015.
Known by family and friends as an amazing cook, she enjoyed making everything from fried chicken, collard greens, cakes, pies and all things in between. German Chocolate Cake, Pecan Pie, Lemon Meringue Pie and Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream were among her favorites!
She began her career in domestic services and then transitioned to the corporate sector at Tracor Semiconductor.
Later, making full use of her gifts, talents and graces, she went on to become an entrepreneur, starting her own business as a daycare center director for 18 years. She was known to all of the children as “BB.” In 1989, she began employment with the Austin Independent School District Transportation Department, where she worked for more than 15 years prior to her retirement.
Bernice LOVED the Lord and served as choir director for Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, TX. In 2005, Bernice and Willie left Austin and relocated to Rowlett, TX.
Bernice was a devoted member of North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship for the past 15 years. She was affectionately known to many at church as “Miss Bea” or “Sister Bernice.” Bernice was active in Welcome Ministry and the Tuesday Women’s Bible Study. In her personal time, Bernice loved to sing praises to God and was always strong in her faith and an encourager to all of those who met her acquaintance. In 2012, she became the sole caretaker of her husband. She loved and cherished her family. Bernice was known for speaking her truth as well as speaking calm and care into life’s challenges as she would often say “Peace Be Still.” She peacefully departed this this life transitioning from labor to reward on Thursday, August 13, 2020.
In addition to her parents, Bernice was preceded in death by her husband, Willie James Smith, Sr.; Son: Willie James Smith, Jr.; Son-in-law: Robert D. Wilson; Brothers: Chester Watson and Eddie Watson. Sisters: Thelma McNeece and Shirley Josie Wells.
Bernice leaves to cherish her loving memory include one loving daughter, Lynette Smith of Dallas, TX; Grandchildren: Camillia Chatman- Crider ll and husband Mr. Larry Crider II; LaTasha A. Wilson and Daryl Johnson, all in Maryland. Great grandson: John Blunt, Jr. of Lexington, KY; Daughter-in-law: Mrs. Bernice Smith of Bowie, MD; Brothers: A.D. Watson; Don Ray Watson; Dennis Watson and Walter Watson; Sisters: Delores Sneed and Virgie Horton, all of Austin, TX as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, family and friends who will remember her love and devotion towards Christ and all that knew her.