Crosby Library storyteller remembered
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Beloved Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library’s children’s storyteller, Sylvia Bernard, passed away Saturday after a long battle with cancer.
For about 10 years, Bernard entertained children with stories, songs and craft making. Friends and colleagues remember Bernard’s unique sense of humor and ability to make others laugh.
Bernard’s friendship with Grace Booth began more than 50 years ago in New Orleans, where the two grew up.
“She was an only child and never married,” Booth said. “The children she worked with were her family. She bonded with the children and parents just raved about her.”
Bernard moved to Picayune after she lost her home in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina. Like many of those who were displaced, Bernard utilized the computers at Picayune’s library.
During their search for a children’s program director in 2005, Pearl River County Library System Director Carol Phares said they interviewed person after person, but no one seemed to be the right fit.
“She was job hunting on the computers and someone told her we were looking for an employee,” Phares said. “She filled out an application and interviewed on the same day. When it was over, we all looked at each other and said ‘she’s it.’’’
Dalia McNeil worked with Bernard for about eight years and remembered how well she brought children’s stories to life.
“It was like she made the pictures come to life and you could tell that the children were imagining what she was reading.” McNeil said. “She was an extraordinary lady who made us laugh. She was not only my co-worker, she was my friend.”
Bernard and McNeil shared many lunch hours together.
“She introduced me to all these new restaurants here and we always had to have dessert,” McNeil said. “Either we had it at the restaurant or go to the store and get some. She loved food and sweets.”
A few months ago, the lunches ended when Bernard’s battle with cancer forced her to retire.
“She was a strong person and never complained of pain,” Booth said. “She worked even when she was sick. She hated to give up her job but realized she couldn’t do it like she wanted.”
Bernard also authored about six children’s book, which Booth described as traditional, charming and classic. She also submitted articles to the Picayune Item.
According to her obituary, Bernard graduated from the University of New Orleans and taught kindergarten at Word of Faith Academy for 26 years.
Booth, Phares and McNeil all agreed that the community loved Bernard.
“Everyone that knew her loved her,” McNeil said. “Former students used to visit her at the library.”
Phares said library patrons and staff will miss Bernard.
“She had a wicked sense of humor,” Phares said. “She was a such a good story time person. Children from the Catholic and Baptist schools would walk down for story time and started prayer chains for her when she got sick. She was so well loved by the kids.”
Booth said Bernard was the type of person that everyone loved to be around and the friends made it a priority to visit with one another at least once a week.
However, Bernard’s humor remained strong, even when she entered an assisted living facility.
“I knew every time I visited her, there was no doubt I would laugh,” Booth said. “One day I went to visit her and she had her arms folded across her chest. I asked her what she was doing and she told me, ‘I’m practicing.’ She was a gifted and unique individual, that’s what she was.”
Funeral services will be held today at 2 p.m. at McDonald Funeral Home Chapel, with visitation from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Bernard will be buried in Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
According to her obituary, Bernard requested, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Pastor Green’s ministry “Harvest Ministries,” P.O. Box 293658, Lewisville, TX 75029 or Believers Church at 2310 Millswood Road, Picayune, MS 39466.
View Bernard’s complete obituary and sign the guest book at www.mcdonaldfh.com.