Obituary of Gloria Mercedes Bernier Renta
Gloria Mercedes Bernier, 88, of Melbourne, Fl and San Juan, P.R. went to Heaven on 4/24/2023. We attempt to do justice to her legacy in this obituary but no words can properly articulate the profound impact she had with the outpouring of love she showed to those dear to her and her remarkable achievements.
Her story began in Manhattan, NY on December 1st, 1934, when she was born to Rev. Erasmo Marcelino Bernier and Rita Maria Bernier. A common theme throughout her life was her love and passion for music, which was introduced to her early on when her father wrote a song for her:
"En el 213 al Este de la 123,
una ninita vive que respondera a usted si le dice,
Gloria, Gloria, Gloria Mercedes Bernier. "
She was the youngest of 8 children and her siblings truly loved and cherished her. She loved them dearly as well and was incredibly close to them throughout her life. Her family eventually moved to Ponce, Puerto Rico, when her father was called to lead and pastor the First Baptist Church of Ponce. As the daughter of a Baptist minister, her spiritual life was rich and she was always thankful to God for all the blessings throughout her life.
The importance of education was instilled in her by her mother and as a result, she dedicated herself to her studies. In May of 1952, she graduated from Ponce Senior High School. She then went on to the University of Puerto Rico and later, Keuka College in New York. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Sociology and Psychology in 1957.
While at Keuka College, she was named College Social Chairman and was part of the International Students Association and the Terpsichore Dance Club. She had an infectious personality and was quite popular among her peers. She enjoyed teaching them how to dance and giving haircuts for 25 cents!
Gloria later married and had 3 daughters who were her pride and joy. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for them, as they were her world.
While growing her family, she began her professional career in Puerto Rico. During a time that was uncommon for women to hold prominent roles in government, Gloria shattered the proverbial glass ceiling and found herself in positions both at the local and federal level. In those roles, she dedicated herself to loyally and fiercely representing Puerto Rico's interests resulting in many well-deserved accolades. In 1977, the Governor of Puerto Rico named her a member of the Governor's cabinet, where she was in charge of the government agency that disbursed federal funds that helped thousands of people with training and employment opportunities. This had a significant impact in improving the lives of people in Puerto Rico, which she was very proud of. She retired from government service in 1981 and thereafter, she was hired by the Government of Puerto Rico to serve as a private consultant, given her impressive background and experience in governmental affairs.
During her life, her passion and love for music led to her becoming an accomplished pianist and she used her musical talent to entertain her loved ones, who would gather around the piano to hear her play beautiful melodies and sing along. Gloria was a woman of many talents, as she was also a beautiful orator. This earned her the distinction of always being chosen to give the speeches at all family gatherings.
She was an inspiration to those who were blessed to know her. With her remarkable achievements and her bigger than life personality, she created a ripple effect by instilling in her children and grandchildren a strong sense of self, work-ethic and unwavering love for family, which will undoubtedly be passed on to the generations of her family that follow.
Gloria is survived by her 3 daughters, Linda Joy Feliciano[Juan], Carolyn Torres [Guillermo], Deborah Feliciano [Julian]. 9 grandchildren - Bianca, Natalia, Gilberto, Gloria, Guillermo, Stephanie, Gabriel, Andres and Gustavo, and 14 great grandchildren. Sister Floridalia Bernier Alfaro Young and brother Benjamin Bernier Renta and many cherished nieces and nephews.
Those of us that survive her will do our best to honor her memory and legacy by continuing to pass along her values and in doing this, we know that we will make her proud, as she has made us proud in being able to call her ours.
One of Gloria's grandchildren, Stephanie Joy Zuluaga, wrote the following in dedication to her loving grandma, which we would like to share as just one example of the impact she had on her loving family:
My grandma was not like any grandma, she was a cool grandma. She was fiercely independent, a career woman, a world traveler and a fashionista. It’s hard for me to accept that she is physically no longer with us. But I choose to believe that she is in her version of Heaven, which probably means being with loved ones that have already made it there. Her Mom, Dad, siblings, family and probably even Grandpa (even though I’m sure she will never admit that she’s excited to see him). Maybe they are all gathered around a piano singing songs and enjoying each others company again. It gives me comfort in imagining that in her Heaven, she will be able to go back and forth between all of her most cherished memories and be present and relive those moments as many times as she wants. I recently read her autobiography and was able to experience some of those memories in her story. She wrote about a simple core memory of hers when she was a little girl. Back then they didn’t have video games or TV to entertain themselves and instead her and her brother would listen to Opera music on the radio while cleaning the floors with a hose for entertainment. She writes a lot about her journey in faith, her experiences in grade school, when she got her first job teaching, how independent she felt when she bought her first car, and how proud she was when she got her job working for the Governor of Puerto Rico. She also wrote about the sad moments in her life. The end of her marriage, the passing of her mother and shortly after her cancer diagnosis. She wrote about about missing moments in her daughters lives because of her work and deeply regretting that. But in her later years she wanted to make up for that. It was her mission to be there for her daughters and grand children. She wanted to attend every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Graduation, dance recital, soccer game, communion, baby shower and she did just that. Her autobiography ends with how happy she felt when all of her family was together for the New Year of 2000 and how she had such a great time being amongst friends and family. The biography ends in 2002 with the promise of new memories to be made in years to come and she looks forward to how her story will continue. We have had so many great memories with Grandma, one most cherished being her 80th birthday party. Although I didn’t make it, I love hearing stories about how great of a time everyone had. This most recent chapter of her life has been the toughest for all of us. I would love to tear out this chapter and completely forget about these past few years. This horrible disease slowly robbed us of a Mother, Grandmother, sister and friend. Luckily, this chapter was just a blip in time. A small portion of a life filled with joy, laughter and love. Through these difficult moments we realize that sunshine doesn’t happen without rain and without pain there is no joy. Therefore, I am thankful for every moment I’ve had with her. We are now moving on to the next chapter of her life. One that can only be written by us. She made a promise that she will be at every life event and we will continue to hold her to that. I know that she will still be with us at every Christmas, Thanksgiving and family celebration and if we listen closely maybe we will be able to hear her playing the piano for us. She will always be with us. She created our mothers and therefore we will always have a piece of her with us. I can see her independence in my mom, her love for travel in Titi Carolyn and sense of fashion in Titi Debbie. Her impact on our lives will continue with us through the life lessons we’ve learned from her. To travel often, stay close to family and live a life without regrets. I love you Grandma and look forward to feeling your presence and seeing you in my dreams.