Bernice Lillian Evenson, 1911-2010


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Bernice Evenson

Bernice Lillian Evenson died peacefully on September 10 at the home of her son Rolfe in Tampa, Fla. Born September 18, 1911 in New York City, she was just 8 days short of her 99th birthday. She met Fred Evenson in 1931, and they were married in Verona, where Fred and his mother had established Evenson’s, a small family clothing store at 555 Bloomfield Avenue. It was the Depression, things were hard, and the couple lived behind a curtain in that store. The business had filed for bankruptcy, reorganized, and within a few years began to grow along with Verona. In time, all creditors were repaid in full and the Evensons’ reputation and character became legend.

In 1946, Evenson’s expanded into a larger space at 569 Bloomfield Avenue and became an important part of the Verona community. Bernice and Fred were known, also, for their generosity to community charities and civic work. After her husband Fred died in 1964, Bernice remained as head of Evenson’s until she retired in 1979. She lived at the Veranda Club, an independent living facility in Boca Raton, before moving to Tampa this past July.

A charter member of the Jewish Community Center of Verona (renamed Beth Ahm of West Essex) she served as president of the Women’s League, and was very active along with Fred, especially during the building of the new synagogue.

Mrs. Evenson in the 1950s

Having grown up in Roaring Twenties, Bernice loved to dance, and dance she did, even after being confined to a wheel chair in the last six months, her feet and hands kept moving to the rhythm; Jazz and Swing were constantly heard in the house.

To know Bernice was to love her, her kindness and cheerful optimism radiated to everyone she met. Her ever present warmth and smile along with her care and concern for others never changed. A role model to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, she leaves a magnificent legacy.

Bernice is survived by her four children, Rolfe, Donald, Debra and Michael; six grandchildren, Tara, Frederic, Danielle, Brett, Freya and Rebekah; eight great-grandchildren, Alex, Isaac, Bella, Simone, Silvia, Iona, Chloe and George.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, September 14, at 11:30 a.m. at Congregation Beth Ahm, 56 Grove Avenue, Verona, followed by internment at King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to LifePath Hospice, Tampa, Fla., Congregation Beth Ahm or the charity of your choice.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. Sept. 13 is Monday. Is the service Monday the 13th or Tuesday the 14th? I have such fond memories of shopping at Evenson’s especially for back to school clothes,

  2. Evenson’s was the local store for Boy Scout uniforms and equipment. My brothers and I were outfitted there as well as shopping there for clothing for years. Mall/schmall. No one would think to go anywhere else. When Fred had his open heart surgery and an appeal for blood was announced, the entire community inundated the collection facility and an unprecedented amount of blood was given – many hundreds of pints. Everyone loved the Evenson’s.


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