- Date Of Birth: May 11, 1932
- Date Of Death: January 8, 2015
- State: Montana
She was born on May 11, 1932 in Saco, Montana. Growing up on the Montana prairies of Phillips County, Bernice went to grade school in one room school houses, at times riding on the back of her horse, Jack, and in the winter being taken in a horse drawn sleigh by her father. She graduated from Saco High School in 1950 and attended college in Havre at Northern Montana College, studying to be a teacher. She taught for a time at the Valley Town School north of Saco near where the Frenchman Creek Dam is today. Bernice and Donald P. (Patrick) McNamara were married on June 22, 1952 and divorced in 1967. They lived in Bozeman, Montana where Bernice taught school at the Anderson School just outside of town and later lived in England and Utah. To this marriage four children were born: Donna Mae McNamara, Dale Patrick McNamara, Stephen Wayne McNamara and Michael Ernest McNamara.
After living in Utah for several years, Bernice and her family moved back to Montana in 1965. She began working for Montgomery Wards and eventually became the payroll manager. On December 26, 1973, Bernice married Swan D. Olson. They lived in Great Falls, Sun Prairie and later moved to Sun River Meadows where they raised a few cows, some chickens, and Bernice had a garden. In 1980, Bernice went to work for the US Census and after that she began working for Senator Max Baucus in his Great Falls office. She retired in 1994.
One of the highlights of Bernice’s life was in 1989 when she went on the Montana Centennial Cattle drive from Roundup to Billings.
In the late 90s Bernice and Swan moved to Shelby so they could be closer to their grandchildren, Megan and Kyla McNamara, and the cabin near Essex where Bernice loved to go stay and enjoy the beauty of Glacier National Park. After Bernice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s she spent the last few years of her life being cared for by her son Mike and daughter-in law, Mary, in Ulm.
Bernice is survived by her brother, David W. (Agnes) Erickson of Saco; four children, Donna Mae McNamara, Dale P. (Maggie) McNamara, Stephen W. McNamara, and Michael E. (Mary) McNamara; two grandchildren, Meghan M. and Kyla B McNamara; three step-grandchildren, Marlena, Tim, and Taylor Azure; six nieces and nephews, along with several grandnieces and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Swan D. Olson; parents, Ernest and Maud Erickson; brother, Laurence Erickson; and sister, Nellie Mae Erickson.