Alyce-Jane Thomas Bernard, affectionately known as “AJ”, was 83 years old when she passed away peacefully on October 4th, 2020. She had been a resident at The Harrison House in Snow Hill Maryland for the last 19 months. She has been released from the grips of an over 10 year struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Alyce-Jane (and she would say, “Don’t forget to hyphenate my name!”) was born in March of 1937 at Danbury Hospital (CT) to Alice Hick & Seymour D Thomas, who both predeceased her.
Alyce-Jane was also predeceased by her step-mother, Willie Thomas Karsten (this past August), her brother Gordon F Thomas (Ridgefield) and her half-brother Stephen D Thomas (Illinois).
Alyce-Jane is survived by her younger half-sister, Barbara Thomas Blaski (Lindenhurst, Illinois), her 2 children, Allyson J Bernard-Church of Danbury, CT & Ocean City, Md (husband Bud Church), A. Jason Bernard of Waxhaw, NC (wife Esther) and Grandson, Aristotle J Bernard.
Alyce grew up in Ridgefield (CT) in one of the two identical houses that stood side by side that her grandfather & great uncle built on Farview Avenue. She will be buried next to her grandfather, Frederick Thomas & Grandmother Margaretta Belle, in the Thomas Family plot in Ridgefield. She was very proud that her family was one of the founding families of Ridgefield and that her predecessors held so many significant roles in town throughout the years.
Alyce was a Girl Scout, played piano, took ballet, jazz and tap as a young girl and dreamed of being a NYC Rockette. Her love of music never wavered and was one of the last things that brought a smile to her face.
She was always the serious student with a straight A report card. After she graduated from Ridgefield High School, she attended the premiere Berkley Secretarial School in White Plains, NY. She continued her education throughout her career attending Western Ct University School of Business in their Marketing Program and Fairfield University in their Novell Computer Network Program. Alyce’s school teacher mother instilled a strong advocacy for education in her. That prompted her to run, successfully, for a position on the Danbury Board of Education (1981). She served fighting for Danbury’s youth, including being the Chairperson of the Transportation Committee.
Alyce-Jane married her teenage sweetheart, Alfred James “Jim” Bernard (AJ) and moved to Danbury. They had 2 children, Allyson and Jason. After 33 years of marriage Alyce & Jim divorced but stayed friendly and connected as advocates for their children.
If you reread the above, AJ (Alyce-Jane) married an AJ, they had 2 AJ’s and their son had a third generation AJ. Alyce and Jim used to joke the reason they married was because they had the same initials! The “AJ” was even the logo for their real estate company, in Danbury, for many years. AJ1,AJ3,AJ4 and AJ5 will never forget AJ2 (always “numbered” by age rank)!
Alyce-Jane’s early career was at local companies as a secretary, then she (and her mother-in-law, Eleanor Bernard) opened a Maternity Store in the lower level of her home and real estate office on Rte 6 in Danbury. The main level of the property became ½ store, ½ Real Estate Office. She and Jim lived upstairs with their 2 children. Being the only specialty store of its kind between White Plains and Hartford, it was very successful.
Alyce-Jane was the secretary for her husband’s Real Estate office operation pre-1980’s, even as she worked other full time jobs. She was also the family's walking dictionary – she could spell anything, her punctuation and organizational skills in the office were the best. She was “spell check” before there was spell check on the computer. Those skills led her to be a secretary, an administrative assistant, customer service coordinator, a regional sales assistant, and senior executive assistant to numerous company presidents. In the mid to late 1970’s she worked at Connor, Inc (Danbury), followed by Business Incentives, Inc (Georgetown). When Business Incentives closed and the Regional Manager (Mr. Gallagher ) went to ITA Group (Norwalk), he hired Alyce to be the Regional Sales Assistant and Office Manager. When Mr. Gallagher moved companies again, he hired Alyce-Jane to be the executive assistant of his presidential position with Century Communications (bought out later by Adelphia and then The Tow Foundation).
When Alyce retired in 2001, she received a BMW for the many years of loyal and outstanding work.
While at Connor Engineering, in the mid 70’s, she meant a young mother, Theresa, with no family in the area. She and Jim brought her into the fold of their family. Terri Radachowsky became their adopted daughter. Terri affectionately called Alyce “Ma” and has been an integral part of the Bernard family ever since.
Alyce lived in Danbury while they raised their family and then she moved to Charlotte, NC to be closer to Jason and his family. She was as proud as she could be of her grandson, Aristotle. When she realized there was “something the matter with her head” she asked her children to move her back to Ct in the hope that the then undiagnosed Alzheimer’s would vanish in the familiarity of her hometowns. She lived with Allyson until she needed a more secure setting & moved to Catered Living in Ocean Pines Md, a Alzheimer's Assisted Living facility (2015). In Feb of 2019 Alyce needed additional care and the family was blessed to be able to have her spend the rest of her days at The Harrison House in Snow Hill Md.
Debby Webb Scott, another friend and “adopted” daughter, helped care for Alyce while living in Ct the last years before moving to Md. Debby and Terri’s help during that time period allowed her to stay in Allyson’s home an additional year.
Alyce had many joys in her life. Including her daughter, son and grandson’s achievements – she loved listening to Aristotle play the piano as she played when she was younger. Dancing, music, cooking, The NYTimes crossword puzzle, driving her BMW, chewing gum, voracious reader, visits to the beauty parlor and grocery shopping. She loved to eat lobster, corn on the cob (which she ate across like a typewriter), coffee (and more coffee) & traveling.
Her children will miss their favorite dishes she made for their birthdays and special occasions. Leg of Lamb for Allyson and Chicken & Dumplings for Jason. Not to forget her Squash Soup, especially this time of year.
It is a myriad of little things that we are going to miss as we say our final goodbyes. Her loving embrace, laugh, smile and the sparkle in her eyes.
A graveside interment service will take place at Fairlawn Cemetery, North Salem Road, Ridgefield, CT on Wednesday, October 14th at 1:00 PM . Please wear her favorite color purple, share a favorite memory or reading. Let’s celebrate the life of Alyce-Jane together. For livestream information please visit www.jowdykanefuneralhome.com. Social distancing and facial coverings are required at the graveside interment service.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in her memory to the Worcester County Humane Society - 12330 Eagles Nest Rd, Berlin, MD 21811 or to Poodle Rescue of Connecticut, PO Box 188, Naugatuck, CT 06770.
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Worcester County Humane Society
12339 Eagles Nest Road, Berlin MD 21811
Poodle Rescue of Connecticut
PO Box 188, Naugatuck CT 06770