Berniece Irene Garsee went to be with Jesus on July 28, 2017. She was born on November 18, 1929, to Robert and Edith Miller in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She met the love of her life, Jarrell Garsee, while they were attending Bethany Nazarene College. They got married during their senior year, on February 6, 1951. Berniece received a degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in music, that same year. After college they moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Berniece did many jobs to help get Jarrell through Seminary. FYI – he was the president of his class in 1954. His sweet bride was his biggest fan and supported him during that time.
Once they were done with Seminary, in 1954 they began a new church in Corpus Christi, Texas, with 13 members. Seven years after planting the church, they had an average attendance on Sunday mornings of over 100.
In 1960, at the request of the General Church of the Nazarene, Jarrell and Berniece initiated a new missionary work in American Samoa. During their time in Samoa, Berniece played the pump organ, learned the language, and loved the children, teens and women of Samoa. She was instrumental in getting several students to attend college in the states.
In 1964, while they were on furlough, the Garsee’s adopted a little girl, Jan Denise. Six months later they adopted a little boy, John Weldon. They went back to Samoa in 1965 with two babies, and the Samoan’s were so surprised that God had blessed them with children. God answers the prayers of your heart if you ask Him.
They returned from Samoa in 1968 and moved to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Berniece was teaching piano lessons at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College and Jan and John wanted to attend Kinder Kollege, so she went to work as a full-time first grade teacher at Pleasant Street Elementary School. They spent eight years in Mt. Vernon.
In 1976 they moved to Boise Idaho and Berniece became the first lady of Boise First Church of the Nazarene on Liberty Road, from 1976 – 1986. During 1978 she was hired by Dave Friesen to teach first grade at Garfield Elementary School in Boise. Along with being a mother of two children, the pastor’s wife of a growing church, and a first grade teacher, she was involved in Women’s Ministries at Boise First, which she had a passion for. She had meetings at the house with the women’s counsel to plan the next great event. And, had church board dinners where everyone that attended got a “job” to do during their time together. In 1983, Berniece wrote a book called, “Program Handbook for Women’s Ministries”, during Jan’s and John’s senior year of high school. They would find her knee-deep in notes and programs that needed to be included in her book. Bev Martin spent many hours editing and typing each and every chapter. Needless to say, Jan and John were glad when she finished “that book”. They had no idea what an impact the book would have around the denomination of the Nazarene church and beyond, that changed women’s ministry groups everywhere.
In 1986 they moved back to Bethany, Oklahoma so that Jarrell could care for his mother, Lilly Mae Garsee. Berniece was a 1st grade teacher, at Bethany Public Schools District. Jarrell was a Chaplain. The years in Bethany where tough, but God provided….as He always does.
In 1989, they accepted a call to be Pastor and first lady of Anaheim First Church of the Nazarene. What a joy for them to return to the ministry. God had a plan. Jan and John and Alexis were in California for a couple of years together. Anaheim was amazing! A church library, women’s ministry, and Berniece helped get a church cookbook published. It is still our go-to cookbook for Buckeyes, Texas Sheet Cake, Chicken and Rice casserole and of course Red Jello! She did all this, along with supporting her husband to get the Family Life Complex built.
In 1994 they embarked on a new chapter in life at the Nazarene Bible College! Berniece taught classes on women’s ministry and assisted the Bible College with a women’s ministry conference. Their family helped celebrate their 50th anniversary in Colorado Springs, with the ladies from class and Jarrell’s colleagues. John’s family and Jan were there for the grand celebration of 50 years together.
In 2001 they “retired” in Boise Idaho! Close to John and family in Seattle, and Jan was just a plane ride away. Boise First was their church home……but God had a bigger plan for their retirement years.
After moving back to Boise, Berniece started the women’s ministry Bible study at Boise First Church on Tuesday Morning’s. Sixteen years later that is still going strong.
In 2004, Jarrell was asked to be the interim pastor in Lewiston, ID for six months. Following that they went to Moscow, ID for 16 months. Healing the hearts of wounded people in hurting churches, and helping them for that stage of the church life.
Once done with their service of churches in need, they returned to BFC. They began a 50+ traditional service on Sunday evenings in 2005 at Boise First Church of the Nazarene.
Berniece Garsee is survived by her daughter, Jan Denise from Anaheim, CA; her son, John (Alexis) from Puyallup, WA, and their three daughters, Samantha, Austin Taylor (Lucas), and Ava. She has one great-granddaughter, Victoria Jean Taylor; her sister Wilda Marie Majors, (99) from Tulsa, Oklahoma; Delores June Stites (84) and her husband Troy from Dayton, Ohio; and countless nieces and nephews.
I would like to say a special thank you to Applewood Assisted Living and Harrison’s Hope Hospice for their care and compassion with my parents. Berniece’s last mission field was Applewood. She wanted to know what her “job” was and we told her to minister to the girls at Applewood. She would listen to them and pray for them. She had an impact on their lives.
The question she asked everyone was, Where is Jarrell? Friday morning she found her Jarrell and Jesus. What a blessing!
In lieu of flowers Memorials may be made to one of these three organizations:
?Sunset Youth Service Dawn and Ron Stueckle - http://www.sunstyouthservices.org
?The Closet Kelly McMurry - http://theclosetinc.org
?Tree City Church of the Nazarene, 3852 N Eagle Rd., Boise, ID 83713 (Memo line:Mwanza-LXP)
A viewing will be held and her family will greet friends from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017 at the Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, 5400 Fairview Ave, Boise. A graveside service will be held at 9:30 am, Friday, August 4, 2017 at Dry Creek Cemetery, 9600 Hill Rd., followed by a Celebration of Life at 11 am at Tree City Church of the Nazarene, formerly known as Boise First Church of the Nazarene, 3852 North Eagle Road.
1929 ~ 2017