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Jane Frances (Mead) Bernier, 83, of Norman died Friday, April 9, at her home. Jane was born September 2, 1937 in Norman to Jean and Cecil Mead. She attended Norman Public Schools and upon graduation attended the University of Oklahoma on a band scholarship. She loved to regale her family with stories of her marching band escapades. She graduated from OU with a degree in Early Childhood Education. In 1958 she married Arthur Kenneth Bernier. They remained married until his death in 2004. After a brief time away while Ken was in the army, they established their home in Norman. She was a member of McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church. Jane worked as an early childhood educator in various capacities, notably with McFarlin Church, the Pottawatomie Indian Tribe and various Head Start Programs. Ultimately she transitioned into what would become her favorite career as the children’s librarian at the OKC Downtown Library. There she blossomed as Miss Jane, the lady who put on elaborate story times complete with costumes, puppets, props and library pets. She became a beloved storyteller and book reader who often visited local classrooms to share her love of reading and books. Throughout both her careers, Jane successfully strived to enrich the lives of the children in her community. Along the way, she inspired multiple generations of children to become lovers of reading. At home, Jane relished her role as Mom and then Grandma. She could most often be found on the ground or in a chair with the kids while they played games, created art or snuggled. But by far, everyone’s favorite activity was when she read them books and told them stories. Jane was also a dedicated Sooner sports fan, softball and football were her favorites, and she also enjoyed following Thunder basketball. She was a voracious reader in her own right and strongly supported the public library system. After she retired, she became an active volunteer for Friends of the Norman Public Library. Jane was preceded in death by her husband and her parents, brothers Walter Mead and Jack Mead and Jack’s wife Jeanne, and sisters Patricia Lawrence and Shirley Justice. Jane is survived by her daughters Michelle Little and husband Sam of Edmond, Christie Tongier of Asheville, North Carolina and Sarah (Vaughn) Gillard (to whom Jane was a surrogate mom) of Tonbridge, England. Her two sisters, Ann Kennedy of Norman and Carol Ross of Oklahoma City, also survive her as do her beloved grandchildren Stephanie Little and her partner Josh Thomas, Jessica (Little) Harraman and husband Preston, Madeline Little, Nia Hollister, Serena Hollister, Ben Gillard and Francesca Gillard as well as her favorite cousin, Kathy Brann of Atlanta, Georgia and many nieces, nephews and their families. With respect to the current public health crisis, a public memorial service will not be held but we encourage you to share your memories of Jane and condolences.
If desired, memorial contributions may be sent to Norman Friends of the Public Library. As a way to remember her, Jane’s family strongly encourages everyone to take the time to sit down and read a good book.