Mary Bernita Campo


image of Mary Bernita Campo

Mary Bernita Campo

Bernie Campo was born on December 9, 1923 to John and Elizabeth Stitz in a hospital in Sebetha, Kansas. She and her twin sister were not expected to survive the birth. However, the doctor was able to perform a new procedure called a cesarean section and both were delivered safe and sound.  Due to Elizabeth’s, devotion to Blessed Mary they were called Mary Bernita and Mary Bernice.

Bernie grew up on a farm in Baileyville, Kansas with her 8 siblings, Eleanor, Raymond, Edmond, Dorothy, Marcella, Alma, twin Bernice and younger brother John who later became a priest and Bernie thought highly of.  When they were too young to work or there was no corn or wheat to harvest, Bernie had a great time with her siblings. They would play a game they called Handy-over in a big garage type building. The object being to throw the ball over a rafter to the other person but quickly running around and trying to catch it yourself. They never felt like they were poor because they didn’t know any other way of life. They had food from the farm and plenty to entertain each other. As she grew older though and had more responsibilities harvesting, life on the farm got harder.   She remembered the pain in her hands from picking the corn and her mother telling her, “Don’t ever marry a farmer because you’ll end up working your whole life.”

Bernie attended a one room school house up the 8 th grade, but since the high school was in another town far away, she did not attend high school. Once her schooling ended, she spent a lot of time playing cards with her father.  So for those of you who have been beaten in cards by Bernie frequently, now you know how she got so sharp!  When Bernie got a little older she went to work in Topeka for the Jacobson family as a housekeeper. She spoke fondly of Mrs. Jacobson often.  After being a housekeeper, Bernie wanted to make the move to Yakima, Washington. Her father let her go because her oldest brother, Raymond, was living there. She may have lived with Raymond briefly but she wanted nothing to do with Raymond telling her what to do. Bernie got a job setting up the pins at a bowling alley and later found a job in a bakery. She live in a small studio apartment on her own.  At the bakery she met her mentor Jack Larson, who owned the bakery and in later years became the mayor of Yakima.  She credited much of her baking skills to Jack and could often be heard quoting Jack when she was baking or cooking. “If everything going into it tastes good, then it has to be good!”

At her job at the bowling alley, she met Mary. Mary decided to set her up on a blind date with her brother, Frank Campo, who she would end up marrying in 1947. Although Frank liked to joke that he picked her up when she was hanging out on a street corner, it was an actual blind date and that is where they picked her up. During this time, her sister-in-law-to-be, Mary, started calling her Bernie and it drove her crazy. However, the name stuck and she was Bernie from then on to everyone except her Kansas family. Trying to fit into the Campo family, she tried to learn Spanish from Frank and his brother, Emil. Although during this lesson, Frank and Emil’s mother had come in the house from an errand. The next thing Bernie knew, their mother was beating Frank and Emil with her purse. Didn’t take long for her to figure out that they had been exchanging the words she was learning for dirty ones.

Bernie married Frank in 1947 and went on a short honeymoon in Idaho. She then became a homemaker and mother to 9 children, Joyce, Mike, Theresa, Ron, Jim, Dennis, Bob, Mary and Laurie.  When she wasn’t busy raising all those kids she enjoyed knitting, ceramics, cooking, quilting, and was an avid reader. She liked to sew, making clothes for her kids as well as stuffed animals. All the grandchildren received a special baby blanket when they were born. Frank had a good job but cooking for that many kids was still tough on a fixed budget. She made recipes that would stretch and feed the crowd but every Sunday was special. It was always something good for the family meal on Sunday, like pot roast or fried chicken. And if ice cream was the dessert, she would open the square ice cream cartons, use a butcher knife to cut them up, and serve it up in blocks. Frank and Bernie moved to Seattle when Frank was transferred with his job as a Safeway store manager. They moved once again due to a work transfer to Lynnwood, Washington and when Frank retired they ended up in Bothell, Washington.

After raising all of those kids, Bernie volunteered for more kids at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, annual Toys for Tots drives and put her knitting to work making sweaters she donated to children at a Catholic mission. In more recent years, she enjoyed doing puzzles, playing card games, playing her casino slot game on the computer (she was up to 144 million in winnings!), and of course, reading 3 to 5 books a week. She was still knitting at 97, making squares that were taken to Michaels to be sewn into blankets for the charity Keeping America Warm.

Bernie was preceded in death by Frank in 2011, and her daughter Theresa in 2015 who died of Multiple Myeloma, and 7 of her siblings. Bernie is survived by her sister Alma age 99, her brother-in-law Emil age 98, her 8 children, 12 grandchildren, and 1 great granddaughter.

A funeral will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 2316 180th St. SE, Bothell, WA 98012 on August 5th, 2021 at 11am with a reception to follow. Donations in her name can be sent to Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 5371, Seattle, WA 98145 where Bernie volunteered for many years.

3 Responses to “Mary Bernita Campo”

  • Linda Roth says:

    Your Kansas relatives (Bernice’s kids) are with you in thought as you let go of your mom. Although we never got to know you, your mom and her twin always had a special bond which we were all aware of. We are grateful for her life and her relationship with our mom. Our sympathy and prayers. The Roths

  • Ann Clark Morgan says:

    I am a friend of Ron Campo, your son. Thank you for raising such a genuine and lovely christian man, it says so much about the mother you have been! Ron is such a devoted friend which speaks also to his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is the leading in his multifaceted and joyous life. His christian service work he takes very seriously, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he does nonstop. You will see your son Ron in heaven and your training of him will continue through his christian service! May the Lord give your family and friends solace during this time of grief and loss…

  • Charles Rude says:

    I worked with Frank at the Safeway store in Lake City as the produce manager for a little over a year I guess . Left Safeway in 1967 . Worked at Coca Cola ,and still saw Frank at Scriber Lake Safeway as salesman for Coke and also as his Cola Cola driver !!!! What a great guy he was !! Never knew when he past in until I read the Obituaries and saw Bernie Campo ! Of course I had met and saw her many times over the years . She always seemed to me to be a great lady and surely missed by her family and all her knew her !!! Hope to be their tomorrow for celebration of life !!! Chuck Rude

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