Bernice Hunter Gifford was born in Centerville, Mo., to parents Stella Miner Hunter and Ernest M. Hunter. She resided in Gideon, Mo. from 1938 to 2003 and was a member of Fox Ridge Retirement community in Bryant, Ark., from 2003 until her death. Preceded in death by her parents, her husband John W. Gifford and her sister, Norma Parker. She is survived by her brother, Rev. Edwin Hunter of Desloge, Mo., her daughter, Norma Bridges of Benton, Ark., her sons, John H. Gifford of Palo Alto, Calif. and Dr. William Gifford of Burbank, Calif. She leaves behind four grandchildren, Susan Bridges of Stamford, Conn., Elizabeth Taulbee of Morrilton, Ark., Eric Gifford of Sacramento, Calif., William Gifford of Burbank, Calif., and four great-granddaughters Sevilla and Enola Gifford and Sara Taulbee.
Bernice accepted Christ as her Savior when she was nine years old and was active in her home church. She was united in marriage in 1938 to John W. Gifford and they spent most of their married life in Gideon, Mo. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2008 prior to Mr. Gifford's death. In 1940, the Gifford's were instrumental in helping organize the First Baptist Church in Gideon. They were among the group of charter members. Bernice taught in Sunday School most of her years in Gideon working with young people during the early years and finishing by teaching the oldest women's class. The Gifford's moved to Bryant, Ark. in 2003 and Bernice was a member of First Baptist Church in Benton, Ark. when she died.
Bernice received her education at Southeast MO University being granted a Master of Education in her fifties. She taught various grades in elementary school in Missouri retiring in 1982. Her teaching career spanned 32 years. Her first teaching job was at 17 in a one-room school in the Ozarks for a salary of $33 per month. Her duties in addition to classroom instruction for all eight grades included making the fire and sweeping the floors. The Gifford's were world travelers. They visited 55 countries and all the continents except Antarctica and journeyed to all fifty states. They enjoyed presenting travelogues of their travels to various schools and civic groups.
Funeral services will be held at the First Baptist Church, Gideon, Mo. Visitation begins at 11a.m. on Wednesday, August 29, with the funeral service commencing at 1p.m. The Reverends Robert Gifford, Todd Paul and Ryan Taulbee are officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, Benton, AR (211 S. Market Street, Benton, AR 72015) to the benefit of the music ministry.