NORMAN — Tilda “Berniece” Bryant Collett, 90, of Norman, died Monday, July 7, 2014. She was born Dec. 7, 1923, in Wanette.
She is survived by her three children, Larry Gordon Collett of Fortuna, Mo., Wilma Louise Collett Rachal of Norman and Kenneth Gilbert Collett of Olive Branch, Miss.; five grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Collett was preceded in death by her former husband, Lawrence Gordon Collett; father, M. Frank Bryant; mother, Kathryn “Katie” Malvina Gribble Cummings; the stepfather who raised her, Christopher “Cade” Columbus Cummings; sister, Flora Bell Bryant Grissom; and half brother, Robert “Bob” Lee Cummings.
Berniece grew up in Wanette, Corbett, Sulphur and Washington, Okla. She loved helping her stepfather, Cade (dad), in his grocery stores. She was a super seamstress and made all her dresses with and without patterns. Her love was making tailored shirts for Larry, gorgeous dresses for Wilma (complete with slips), can-cans and even white linen jackets. Berniece made matching dresses for her and Wilma, plus doll dresses while teaching Wilma to iron.
Berniece met Gordon through her girlfriend, Alta Collett. Gordon was smitten with her pretty blue eyes, her flaming red hair, her adorable dimples and cute little freckles on her nose and cheeks. They dated two years and Gordon proposed to Berniece one Sunday while on a fried chicken picnic in Sulphur. They were engaged six months and were married Dec. 7, 1941, on her 18th birthday.
At the wedding reception, they were told of the Pearl Harbor bombing. From then on, Gordon always said, “Two wars started that day, and one is still going on.” Berniece graduated from high school and she attended a number of night college courses at the University of Oklahoma. She was evening supervisor of PBX switchboards at OU until the dial system came in summer 1956. She worked a number of years at University Cleaners before deciding to become a beautician, then beauty college instructor in the Hollywood Shopping Center.