A mother of five, Augusta County teacher and wife of 72 years, Bernice Rexrode has accomplished a lot in her years. On Friday, she celebrated turning 100.
Rexrode was born in Rockbridge County on a large working farm. She was the oldest of four children.
“Dad was a teacher,” she said. “I just wanted to teach.”
Rexrode attended State Teachers College at Harrisonburg, which became Madison College her senior year. Now it’s known as James Madison University.
She taught two years in Lee County and then began teaching in Highland County where she met her husband, Arual Rexrode.
Before the couple married, he was in the army and Bernice would write him letters from back home. Arual served in World War II.
They married in 1947.
Bernice taught at Ferrum Junior College before the couple moved to Waynesboro in the early 1950s. Then, she taught for Augusta County Public Schools at Stuarts Draft Elementary School and Ladd Elementary School.
“I taught everything from 4 years old to freshman in college,” she said. Bernice had a passion for home economics.
Bernice also taught Sunday school and the couple were charter members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro.
Bernice has been retired as a teacher for 38 years.
Together, she and Arual have five children: Clifton Rexrode, David Rexrode, Francine Johnston, Harvey Rexrode and Iris Birckner. All children remained local. They also have eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“It doesn’t feel any different,” she said of being 100. Arual is 95.
Bernice stays active and participated in swimnastics. She enjoys gardening, flowers and sewing circles.
“I was very careful about what I ate,” she said of her longevity. “I took good care of myself and I kept busy.”
For Birckner, it’s amazing to still have her mother with her at age 100.
“She led with a gentle, but disciplined hand,” Birckner said. “She taught manners and always made family first.
“Of course,” Bernice added, “that’s the most important thing.”