Born in 1939 in Ozawkie, KS to Edward Jack and Leah M (Young) Smith (later Eames). Berneice, known as Berny, often called Ben by her father, spent her childhood moving around the country due to her stepfather’s highway construction work. She spent her high school years with her father & stepmother in Topeka, KS graduating from Seaman High in 1957 where she cited in her yearbook “I care not what subject be taught, only that it be taught well.”.
Berny married Glenn Cleereman, a USAF airman in 1957 and had 6 children Virgie & Steve (both now deceased), Katrina, Marion, Arnie, & Suzie. She later remarried and had another son, Dion Eric. Her family was the most important thing in her life and she worked hard to ensure all the children took advantage of any available opportunity.
Berny had a masters and early career in social work. She went on to experience a variety of roles in logistics, including 2 civilian tours as a contractor in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This was one of her most treasured experiences out of a life filled with variety and travel. She later went on to travel to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska allowing her to say “I’ve been in both polar regions!”
Berny had 5 siblings, Sharon, Beverly Jo, Karen Ann, Jeanette & Wesley and many nieces & nephews. Berny was proud to have 16 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, & 13 great-great-grandchildren whose photos covered the walls of the Live Oak, TX home where she lived with her daughter Marion.
Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday the 28th of January 2023 at the age of 83 years young.