FEATURE ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-21-01, By DARLENE BROWN, Morning Journal Correspondent
``Everything about Avon is special to 'Sis'
AVON -- When questions arise about Avon, many people look to Bertha ''Sis'' Wernert for answers that are probably somewhere in her scrapbooks filled with the community's history.
Wernert, an 87-year-old widow, keeps a busy schedule. She's all over the town on a daily basis -- exercising, walking, attending meetings, taking care of the sick and serving at her church.
''Most people don't even know my first name,'' said the spry, peppy and energetic Wernert.
The scrapbooks reveal much of her family's history. The oldest scrapbook she has was given to her by her late aunt, Grace Pickering.
''I get them out in the winter,'' said Wernert, as she flipped through some of the pages. ''I put up a card table and reread some of the articles.
''Just the other day, I had a 92-year-old friend over and she spent time looking through them and reflecting on some of the history.''
Wernert was born in Avon, one of seven children of Harry Hubbard and Edna Wilcox Hubbard. Her father built the family home on 11 acres of farmland on Hale Street. When Wernert and her husband Elton married, they built a home next door to her parents, where she has lived for 60 years. Her husband died six years ago.
Her schedule would tire out most other people. She chauffeurs some of the town's senior citizens to the Autumn Rebels meetings, the second Tuesday of every month. The members, 50 and over, meet for lunch and are entertained by guest speakers and musicians.
''I've had an interesting and busy life,'' she said with a chuckle. ''My husband and I have a son, Alan, who lives here in Avon, so it wasn't as if I had a lot of children to take care of. I was from a fairly good-size family and my husband was from a family of 10.
''As a young girl, I went to Elyria High School where I could participate in sports. They didn't have sports for girls here in the Avon schools then. I graduated in 1931, when I was 16 years old. My brother Eugene used to drive me to school every day because he worked in Cleveland.
''I went on to become a beauty operator, graduating from White Cross Cosmetology School in Cleveland. My dad fixed up my bedroom into a salon and I did hair at home. Then I worked in Lorain at Maurice Beauty Salon, up over Style Center, around 1935 or 1936,'' she said.
To show how busy she was, even as a young girl, she named several other places of work.
''Of course, as kids we worked the two farms dad had. I also worked at the old Telephone Exchange Company on Detroit Road (Avon). Those were the days when you had to plug the cords into the switchboard.
''Mrs. Gilbert owned a grocery store and I would often replace my brother when he couldn't make it to work at the store. One day she had to leave me alone in the store, and she specifically told me not to open one specific item unless I had to. Well, being curious as most young people are, I opened it up and it was Limburger cheese. When she returned she said ‘Oh, you sold some of the cheese,' and I had to explain to her what happened. I often laugh about that incident to this day.''
When Wernert's parents were up in years and ailing, she volunteered to take care of them because she lived next door. When a neighbor was ailing, she made herself available to do whatever was necessary.
''I was at so many of the homes where someone was sick, the doctor got so used to seeing me that he taught me how to give shots. I always felt that I had to help when someone was in need.
''I did all of these things besides operating my beauty salon, which my husband built for me in our home. After I turned 80, the state wouldn't allow me to renew my license unless I went back to school.''
|Bertha ''Sis'' Wernert and two of her many scrapbooks about Avon. (JIM BOBEL)|
Wernert said her husband was a pattern maker and pointed out many lovely items he made for her -- several small living room tables, one with a glass top for displaying pictures, and wooden serving dishes, plus the beautiful woodwork throughout the home.
Her home and her parents' home were once situated in a rural setting. A small old school house, that she as well as her father, attended stood nearby.
''My dad said there were no grades in that school when he went,'' said Wernert. ''Once you graduated to the upstairs classes that meant you had completed the required schooling.''
The 11 acres her father once owned are now clustered with lovely modern homes.
''Times have changed,'' she said with a smile. ''At the edge of my backyard are new homes. I still enjoy my yard. My husband planted a beautiful ginkgo tree when it was a mere twig, that now stands taller than the house. Kids in the neighborhood come and get leaves from it to take to school, because the tree is rare in our climate. We also have a beautiful maple tree on the side, which was given to us by my Aunt Grace (Pickering).
''People are always suggesting that I go into an apartment, but these are the things that make this place special to me.''
Everything about Avon is special to Wernert. She fondly remembers her brothers -- Donald was the mayor and Lee a plumber and farmer like their father. The other siblings were Gladys Buck and brothers Eugene, Glenn and Erwin.
The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings about her family -- obituaries, weddings and special accomplishments by family members. There are numerous stories about Avon United Methodist Church, where she's been a lifelong member, local political stories and pictures of town events. Some of the items date back to 1929.
Two clippings show the steeple being hoisted on to the new church and a horse drawn wagon hauling the church corner stone to its new location.
''I have so many wonderful memories here. There was a time when I would go to the hospital and visit friends and do their hair while they were confined. I never made any money, but I sure have a lot of friends,'' she said with a chuckle.
Wernert is a member of the Research Club, which meets at members' homes, the library or a special place for lunch. They share information about the town, book reviews and have picnics and other outings.
''You'll never find my name as an officer in any of these clubs,'' said Wernert with a hearty laugh. ''I like to do the cooking or baking or making favors.
''I like to share foods I cook. I just baked some bread and buns and made chowder, which I'll be able to share with someone.
''Four times a week, you can find me exercising at the EMH Center for Health and Fitness. I walk every evening after dinner and do some knitting.
''I still take care of ailing neighbors and friends when necessary.
''You know what makes me feel good? One lady fell in her home, but was able to reach the phone, called the operator and said 'Get Sis Wernert for me, I've fallen.' I thought that was one for the books.''
Wernert has no plans for leaving her present surroundings, but she said when she does, the Avon Library will probably inherit her scrapbooks. ''
Bertha L. "Sis" Wernert (nee Hubbard), 100, a life-long resident of Avon, passed away Tuesday, December 30, 2014, at Avon Oaks Caring Community, following a brief illness. Sis was born June 24, 1914 in Avon.
An Elyria High and Beauty School graduate, Sis operated a beauty shop out of her home for many years. She was an active member of the Avon United Methodist Church, where among many groups, she was a member of the Couples Club.
She was also an active community member belonging to the Avon Research Club and the Avon Autumn Rebels which would later become the Avon Senior Center. In her free time, she enjoyed cooking and baking, as well as gardening, knitting and playing cards.
Sis is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Alan G. and DeAnn (nee Stang) Wernert; grandson and his wife, David A. and Natalie (nee Augenstein) Wernert and granddaughter, Lynn M Wernert; as well as many nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband, Elton F. Wernert; parents, Harry and Edna (nee Wilcox) Hubbard; sister, Gladys Buck (nee Hubbard) and brothers, Eugene, Lee, Edwin, Glenn and Donald Hubbard.
A funeral service will be Saturday, January 3, at 10 A.M., at the Busch Funeral Home, 32000 Detroit Rd., Avon. The Reverend Liz Krall, of the Avon United Methodist Church, will officiate. Internment will follow at Resthaven Memory Gardens, Avon ...