Bearnice Hollingsworth Mathis was born on June 14 1924 to Ella Mae Harrison and William Madison Hollingsworth of Porterdale. She died of congestive heart and respiratory failure on September 27, 2016, at the age of 92. Once past 90 Mathis had the habit of adding a year for good luck whenever she told someone her age; so in angel years she is 93. Mathis died in the company of her family at University Village Memory Care and Assisted Living in Round Rock with the loving support of its kind caregivers and Hospice. She will be remembered for her optimistic view of life and for her resilience for she often said “Life is what you make it.”
The first grandchild born to a large family of sisters and brothers, Mathis grew up with younger sisters and aunts who filled the roll of older sisters. Several of these aunts became lifelong friends especially the late Elisabeth Ellis of Oxford. Mathis described her childhood as “the best” but even a wonderful childhood can be interrupted by tragedy. Mathis lost her only brother, W.M. and a sister, Annette, to childhood illnesses.
Mathis attended secretarial school in Atlanta and was employed as a book keeper by The Bibb Manufacturing Company in Porterdale, until her marriage to William Howard Mathis on December 16, 1945. Bill was the love of her life and beyond.
Bearnice and Bill had two children, a daughter Claudia Lynn, and a son William Brian. Throughout their 51-year marriage and Bill’s 20 years of active military service, Bearnice and Bill lived in Hawaii, Japan, France, Taiwan, Crete and up and down the eastern seaboard. After retiring from the military, Bill took a civil service job at Shaw Air Force base near Sumter, South Carolina. In September of 1969 Bearnice and Bill suffered the worst reality a parent can experience: the loss of a child. Their son Brian was killed at the age of 17 by a man driving drunk and without lights on a misty evening. With hearts broken and life forever changed Bearnice and Bill soldiered on.
Just before her 60th birthday Bearnice suffered a traumatic fall that required her to learn to walk again. Always fiercely independent and self-reliant, Bearnice moved from wheelchair to walker to cane to independently walking in less than a year. Soon after they purchased a home in Columbia, South Carolina, and lived happily until health issues began to plague Bill (heart problems) and Bearnice (her appendix ruptured because she did not want to disturb her husband on Super Bowl Sunday). After a successful quadruple bypass, Bill was back on the golf course only to receive a diagnosis of a truly cruel and ruthless disease--ALS (Lou Gehrig’s). With support from Hospice, Bearnice loved and nursed her husband through the many assaults of ALS until his death in 1996.
Bearnice continued living in her home under the watchful eye of neighbors and friends until the fall of 2012 when she joined her daughter’s family in Round Rock, Texas. Bearnice lived with her daughter for one year and then moved to University Village Memory Care. At UV she was loved by her caregivers, her local friends and family until her death.
Bearnice is survived by her daughter Lynn Lajzer and son-in-law Sidney of Round Rock Texas. She was a loving grandmother to her grandson John Brian Lajzer and his wife Lauren of Round Rock Texas. Her great-grandchildren Caleb and Haley Lajzer made her smile and laugh. She will be missed by her dearly loved sisters, Jean Hollingsworth and Helen Adams and her husband Ellis of Monticello and Porterdale. She was a favorite aunt to her nieces Teresa Higginbotham and husband Benny; Shelly Hawley and husband Scott and Natalie Reece and husband Art. She had numerous well-loved cousins, grand-nieces and nephews and great-grandchildren.
Bearnice was predeceased by her husband, William Howard Mathis; son, William Brian Mathis; brother, W.M. Hollingsworth; sisters, Annette Hollingsworth and Nan Franklin and nephew Robert Franklin.
We have shared with you the skeleton of Bearnice’s life but not WHO she was. She was funny and smart and beautiful. She was fiercely independent and resourceful. She had the natural confidence of a woman who knew that as soon as she wrapped her brain around the problem she would solve it. She was passionate in her opinions and in her love. She was loyal even when her loyalty was tested. She was not a worrier and until the end when she was so overwhelmed and confused, she REFUSED to be afraid of life. She was an optimist and eager for adventures. She was not a cook but was good at fixing things around the house. She never bought anything she had to iron. She was irritatingly tidy. She loved CNN because it told her things and repeated them over and over…and that was great for short term memory issues. She was easy to love. Above all, she was a woman who knew how to be happy.
As she lay dying her daughter continuously whispered in her ear: “You can go now Mother. You have completed your to do list. You have been a wonderful daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother. You have met all of your responsibilities. You have loved all who needed to be loved. You have no more jobs to do except to fly away and join all of those who have gone before you. They are waiting. Please sweetie blow out the last candle and fly away home.” She flew. God, like every good parent, is glad to have her home again
Bearnice will be laid to rest with her husband Bill and her son Brian at Marietta National Cemetery at 11 a.m. on November 4, 2016.
Beck Funeral Home in Round Rock Texas is in charge of the arrangements
Bearnice has requested that in lieu of flowers that donations are given in her memory to the charity of your choice. Cards and acknowledgments can be sent to Lynn Lajzer, 2601 Messick Loop West Round Rock Texas 78681.