Berneeta Anna (Wilson) Austin was born October 31, 1925, to Harvey Byerly Wilson and Mabel Claire (Butler) Wilson at home on the family farm near Lenox, Iowa, welcomed by brothers, Randall and Wendell. She passed away at home, at age 93, on September 30, 2019, with her children by her side.
Berneeta graduated from Lenox High School in 1943. She married Charles Raymond Caldwell to which was born a son, Dennis Charles Caldwell. She later married Arthur M. Pedersen, to which were born a son, James Lee Pedersen, and a daughter Sharon Kay (Carr) Pedersen. Joined into this family was a step-daughter, Mary Lou (Pedersen) Letsinger. She later married George Austin who preceded her in death.
Berneeta’s pride and joy were her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She was a dedicated and loving mother. She enjoyed all of their sports and extra-curricular activities rarely missing an event. She will be remembered for her sacrifice and intense devotion to her family. While on the farm near Beaconsfield, she was a hard-working farm wife, caring for the chickens and livestock, and tending to a large garden. She is remembered for her laughter, playing board games, and the card game Rook. She is especially remembered for her cooking. She hosted many family dinners, and everyone loved her fried chicken, homemade rolls, unique potato salad, orange rolls, and her famous cherry mash. On her hand written recipe for cherry mash, she noted “not to answer the phone while making a batch.”
Berneeta spent most of her working life employed by the Ringgold County Hospital for 23 years working in the dietary department as supervisor. She received her food service degree from Iowa State University. As a faithful Christian and member of the United Methodist Church, she enjoyed taking her children to church and Sunday school in Beaconsfield and Mount Ayr. She was able to tour Israel and the Holy Land which was a spiritual highlight for her. Besides cooking, Berneeta was an accomplished seamstress, enjoyed crocheting, bowling, and loved flower gardening. Neet could fix anything with wire and duct tape. She restored soiled sneakers to a bright white. For many years, she enjoyed designing and constructing unique outdoor Christmas light displays. She loved cats and her latest stray friend taken in, Oreo, will miss her master.
Berneeta is survived by children Mary Lou Letsinger, Dennis (Patti Jo) Caldwell, James (Donna) Pedersen, Sharon (Tom) Carr; grandchildren, Anne Cohen and Eric Letsinger; Brian Caldwell and Jeff Caldwell; Jennifer Morrison and Clint Bowen; Joshua Haley and Rachel Dorr; Jacqueline Rupe, Jeff Carr, Kelly Carr, and Allison Carr; twenty-four great grandchildren; many nieces and nephews, and a host of friends.
Services: 11:00 am - Thursday, October 3, 2019 at the Armstrong Funeral Home – Mount Ayr
Officiant: Pastor Bill Armstrong
Open Viewing: 12:00 pm –8:00 pm, Wed, Oct 2
Family Present: 9:00 am-11:00 am, Thurs, Oct 3 at the Armstrong Funeral Home
Burial: 2:00 p.m., Thurs, Oct 3 at the West Fairview Cemetery – Lenox, IA
Memorial: United Methodist Church – Mt. Ayr
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