Sister Geraldine Bernards


Most likely you know of me in connection with Maryville. From 1963 until 2004, I was privileged to care for the aging and infirm as a registered nurse, director of nurses, and as administrator.

My story begins in Verboort, being the second oldest child of Edward Bernards and Hildegarde Crop. I had two sisters and a brother. Our mother died when I was six years old, which necessitated my being placed in the boarding school at St. Mary of the Valley until my Aunt Lena, my father’s sister, came to live with and care for us.

After graduating from St. Mary of the Valley High School, I entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1949. My experience in culinary and sewing skills led to assignments of preparing meals, baking bread, and making butter and ice cream during a time when the Sisters numbered 200 and resident students numbered 80. Then I was assigned to manage the sewing room where my assistants and I made the long habits for the Sisters. I was known as a hard worker, which I learned to be from an early age.

In 1960 the Community expanded its apostolate to include nursing as well as teaching and began building a nursing home. Sister Theresa Ann Bunker and I were sent for training at St. Peter School of Nursing in Olympia, Washington. When I began nursing at Maryville, there were 80 residents in the two-wing building. In 1977 I became Director of Nursing Service, and in 1994 Administrator of Maryville. When I left in 2004, there were over 150 residents. The building had expanded to three wings, with a chapel, an Alzheimer Unit, and a reception section. There were services of dentistry and physical therapy.

In retirement now, I enjoy visits from friends, including from my poodle, Monique. I enjoy seeing the programs presented by the students, and the gatherings of Sisters for birthdays and feast days. For a treat, I enjoy nothing more than a piece of chocolate candy.

A photo album from Sister Geraldine’s life and ministry is available on our campus Flickr site.