Bernice Cote passed away recently after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 81. For close to 30 years Bernice was the heart and soul of Robin Hood. She was our Enrollment Director, the loyal right hand person and confidante to my father and myself, the calming voice of reassurance to thousands of anxious parents and campers, camp humorist, and a second mother to me.
Eulogies risk lapsing into the realm of embellished virtues, but not this one. I have not encountered a warmer, more loving soul than Mrs. Cote. Unselfish to a fault, non-judgmental, loyal, kind, thoughtful, uncomplaining, and full of unconditional love for her children, family, and those she cared about. Bernice was a positive role model and a bedrock of stability. She inspired me to want to be a better man and to become the best camp Director I can be. There was a playful joyfulness to Mrs. Cote that somehow found humor in most everything. If you wanted to feel better about life, just hang around Bernice for a while. She laughed easily and often and enjoyed her own company and sense of humor as much as we all did.
When driving to and from Maine frequently while living in the Boston area I would often drop by to say hello briefly, and more often than not, found myself sitting at Bernice’s kitchen table in N. Reading eating homemade pie or an improvised meal thanks to her perpetual hospitality. During the many summers Bernice lived at Top Notch, Robin or I would conveniently leave a container of fresh blueberries or a bowl of apples on the kitchen counter knowing that within a matter of hours a warm blueberry or apple pie would magically appear thanks to Bernice.
When our daughters Tanya, Jasmin, Camille, and Annalee were little and it was bath or bed time at Top Notch, Robin and I would more often than not hear giggles and laughter coming from Bernice’s room downstairs and we would find them lying comfortably on Bernice’s bed watching the Red Sox on television or being read to. We knew where to find the girls and it was difficult to tear them away from “Aunt Bernicey”.
Bernice loved Maine and Robin Hood, and Robin Hood and I loved Bernice. We invite you to attend a memorial service for Mrs. Cote at the outdoor Robin Hood Chapel in Maine, most likely Saturday July 29 at 1:30 pm. It was her wish to have a brief service at camp with a few campers in attendance. Our most recent girls cabin was named “Bernice” in her honor 4 years ago and a camper scholarship will be given annually in her name. We miss you Bernice but you will not be forgotten.