Bernice “Bernie” Mary Vang, died peacefully in Camarillo, CA on January 22, 2020 at the age of 92. After 46 years, she was joyfully reunited in paradise with her husband, Arnold.
She will be lovingly remembered by her daughter, Carolyn Vang-Walker; son-in-law, Frank Walker; daughter-in-law, Vivian Vang; 3 granddaughters, Teresa Vang, Donna Vang-Gereau and Kaitlin Walker; numerous nieces and nephews; and an abundance of friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Manuel and Carrie De Coite; 12 brothers and sisters; her husband of 26 years, Arnold Ingmar Vang; and stepson, Arnold Lee Vang.
Bernice was born in the township of Makawao, located in Maui, a Territory of Hawaii, on March 14, 1927. She was the 11th child of Manuel and Carrie De Coite, both of whom were also born on Maui. In 1943, at the age 16, she graduated from an all girl’s Catholic High School in Wailuku, Maui. After graduating from high school, her mother introduced her to a young marine, Terry Bakakias, who was recovering from his wounds in a nearby hospital. The two fell in love and planned to marry. Unfortunately, at the tender age of 17, she lost her betrothed to a wartime injury. Upon receiving the news of their son’s death, the Bakakias family invited Bernice to travel to the mainland for a visit. At the age of 18, she embarked upon a long journey from Maui to Salt Lake City, Utah. Terry’s sisters embraced her with love, encouraging her to stay with them. Bernice maintained a life-long friendship with both. After settling in Utah, she worked in a downtown department store, often modeling Hawaiian fashions during the summer. She attended Ogden College, earning her Bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate.
The Bakakias family introduced Bernice to a family friend, Arnold Vang. After a brief courtship, they were married on June 23, 1947. At the age of 20, Bernice not only became a wife, but also a mother to Arnold’s son, Arnie Lee. Bernice described Arnold as the “love of her life”. They shared 26 wonderful years together.
During the early years of their marriage, Arnold’s job required the family to move around the country quite frequently. They arrived in California in 1954. Five years later, Bernice gave birth to their only daughter, Carolyn. In 1964, Arnold and his brother opened a neon sign business called, “Vogue Sign Company” and the family settled in Camarillo, CA.
For 23 years, Bernice was a popular and beloved kindergarten teacher at Camarillo Christian School, where she taught hundreds of students about God’s love. She was an exceptional teacher who delighted in watching her precious students blossom into adults. For many years, she was an active and dedicated member of the First Lutheran Church and Mount Cross Lutheran Church in Camarillo. Bernice was a kind, gentle and generous person who loved spending time with family and friends, sharing her home with those in need, and celebrating holidays and special occasions. She enjoyed reading her Bible, crocheting, growing her garden, attending yard sales with friends, volunteering, teaching children to read, going for walks, caring for her dog, “Angel”, dancing hula and visiting Hawaii whenever she had the opportunity to do so.
The legacy of Bernice’s indomitable spirit, courage, passion for service, love of God and zest for life will live on through those who loved her. Aloha and mahalo, until we meet again.
A celebration of Bernice’s life will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 11:00 am at Mount Cross Lutheran Church located at 102 Camino Esplendido, Camarillo, CA 93010.
...Family in the care of Erin Arteaga, Funeral Director
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