Bernice Henry Rathmell died Thursday, March 27, 2014, at the amazing age of 96 years. Born May 11, 1917, in Hyde Park, Pa., she was the daughter of the late Thomas and Anna (Shay) Henry and wife of the late John Nicely Rathmell, who preceded her in death on Jan. 15, 2004.
Bernice graduated from Hyde Park High School and from Bucknell University in 1939. During her undergraduate years, she achieved recognition as the first woman drum major of a major university band in the United States, with her success acknowledged in pictures and an article in the New York Times. It was here that she also met her future husband, John Rathmell. As a graduate student at Bucknell, she became the assistant to the dean of women. She also was asked to join the government's civilian pilot training program where she earned her private pilot's license.
After graduation from Bucknell, Bernice moved to New York City and worked for Pan American Airline as an instructor on Link Trainers, the flight simulators used to train commercial pilots. After her marriage to John and while he was overseas during World War II, Bernice worked in Ohio at a flight training school for "ferry pilots," training young pilots to ferry planes to various domestic locations. She then returned to New York City, working for United Airlines interviewing and testing applicants including pilots returning from European duty.
With the end of the war, John and Bernice returned to Williamsport, and began raising a family. During this time Bernice earned her master's degree in education and counseling. Once all of their four children were in school, Bernice became the guidance counselor at Muncy High School in Muncy from 1962 through 1968. There she was instrumental in encouraging many graduating students to continue their education and go on to college.
Bernice was also an enthusiastic and gifted volunteer throughout her life. She was a past president of the Junior League of Williamsport and a past president of the board at the Williamsport Home. She also was a past board member of Friends of Muncy Public Library. She was an avid reader and loved spending time with her family and friends.
Surviving are one son and daughter-in-law, Stephen E. and Pamela H. Rathmell, of Casco, Maine; a daughter, Anne R. Davis, of Annandale, Virginia; a daughter and son-in-law, Sue N. and Michael E. Wuerthele, of Pittsfield, Vermont; four grandchildren, Meghan Torrieri, Erin Tilton, Katharine Balzano and Porter Davis; and seven great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her former daughter-in-law and widow of H. Porter Rathmell, Pam Racow; special sister-in-law, Sue Rathmell Fuller; nephew and nieces, John Fuller, Elizabeth DiGiuseppe, and Rebecca Fuller; and niece and nephew, Barbara and Tom Murphy.
In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her son, Lt. H. Porter Rathmell; her son-in-law, Robert A. Davis; her nephew, William S. Fuller; and her sister, Gratia Henry Murphy.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 4, at Grenoble's, 121 S. Main St., Muncy. Officiating will be CAPT Johnny Poole, Chaplin Corps, U.S. Navy and Dr. Lorenzo York, Chaplin Corps, U.S. Navy, retired.
Flowers will be provided by the family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in her name payable to the "H. Porter Rathmell Scholarship" fund and mailed to First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, 330 Pine St., Suite 400, Williamsport, PA 17701.
Expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.grenoblefuneralhome.com
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