Voran Funeral Home
23701 Ford Road
Visitation 2-8 pm at the Dearborn Chapel of Voran Funeral Home.
Funeral Service, Saturday 5pm - also at Voran.
Voran Funeral Home
Bernice was preceded in death by her parents, Anton (Tony) and Stosija (Stella) Pericin and her brother Dr. John (Delphine) Pericin. Beloved wife of Raymond (of nearly 60 years).
She will be greatly missed by her daughters: Amy Kostanecki Lakroune and Julie Kostanecki; sisters and brothers-in-law: Kathy (Jack) Lawrence, Stormy (Don) McGuire, Tom (Patsy Jackson) Kostanecki, Michael (Jo) Kostanecki and Linda Kostanecki; nieces and nephews: Peggy (Bob) Kutscher, Mary Ann (Chris) Janis, John (Sandra) Pericin, Dustin (Niki) Boggs, Jessica (Roy) Leon, Briana (Kevin Walker) Lawrence, Janet (Richard) Starr, Kathy and Danny Stasinsky, Kim (Todd) Rowe, Jennifer Kostanecki, Scott (Sara) McGuire and Sean (Amy) McGuire; and great- and great-great nieces and nephews as well.
Parents and Family
Born July 23, 1934, Bernice was the child of Croatian immigrants. She had two brothers, one of whom succumbed to the dreaded disease of polio before her parents and her other brother, John, immigrated from Croatia. Anton (her father) came to U.S. in 1924, Stella and John arrived later in 1932. Bernice was the first new American in the family, born in Hamtramck, Michigan. The family still spoke Croatian while she was growing up, but the precocious little girl expanded her English skills when she started school. Bernice was very close to her brother, John Pericin. He grew up to be a dentist in Grosse Pointe; sadly, John passed in 1991.
Bernice was also particularly close to her cousin, Violet, who came to Hamtramck from Croatia after the war. Bernice helped Violet adjust to life in Michigan, and the two girls became fast friends. It was a lifetime friendship. Our family enjoyed visiting Violet and her family in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., over the years.
Bernice was an excellent student growing up. She graduated as valedictorian from Hamtramck High. She was very active and athletic in high school, lettering in basketball and golf. Bernice also played the flute throughout high school in the marching band and orchestra. She wrote for the school paper and aspired to be a journalist, taking courses and attending special summer journalism programs at Michigan State. Her instructors at Michigan State were disappointed when her parents prevailed and persuaded her to choose a career that was “practical and reliable” for women. That led her to pursue medicine/physical therapy at the University of Michigan instead of her other real passion of journalism.
Bernice was in the first physical therapy class at the University of Michigan that admitted women. Bernice lived in Martha Cook Building, an all-female dorm, while at UofM. The building had been designed by the same architects who designed the UM Law Quadrangle and was donated to the university by William Cook in honor of his mother, Martha Walford Cook. The dorm was an emblem to the school’s commitment to attracting women, and it was the first women’s dorm at the University of Michigan.
Bernice loved the building’s Tudor-Gothic architecture with beautiful furnishings. Among other features, the building had a reception room in crimson and gold with beautiful marble fireplace and teak wood paneling and a music room with piano. She enjoyed the classic traditions of Friday teas, Messiah dinners (with distinguished guests of the University and soloists and orchestra of Handel’s Messiah from Hill Auditorium), caroling, holiday breakfasts, spring teas, and international teas. She met many of her best college friends there, including Lynn Bloom and shared her love of the building’s traditions with daughter Amy, who attended many alumnae events with her and later elected to apply to live there when she, too, went to the University of Michigan.
Bernice married Ray Kostanecki in June 1958. They lived with Bernice’s parents in Hamtramck for a few years while saving for their own home and getting established in their respective professions.
Bernice and Ray made friends to last a lifetime in Hamtramck. Known to Julie and Amy as aunts and uncles, these friends spent lots of time helping them celebrate life events like family. Birthdays, weddings, communions, graduations, and holidays meant trips to visit the aunts and uncles and their families: Marion and Gus Gostek, Joan and Larry Mesaeh, Betty and Ray Miller, Pat and Dick Bargowski, Jerry and Dianne Trojanowski, Anne (Dick) Waldis, Gloria Greene, Leda and Jack Odinetz, and Helena Baker.
Ray and Bernice bought their first and only home on North Elizabeth Street in Dearborn in 1961. The family spent many happy years there but Ray and Julie recently moved to American House in Westland.
Ray’s sister, Kathy, lived with the family and was like a daughter to Ray and Bernice and a big sister to Amy and Julie. Kathy travelled a great deal with Ray, Bernice, and the kids.
Kathy was a toddler when Ray and Bernice married. She has a wealth of beautiful memories of the beloved lady she calls her “co-mother,” who was much more than a sister-in-law. Ray and Bernice were instrumental in helping raise Kathy:
“Ray and Bernice were dating when I was born in 1956. We all lived in Hamtramck at that time. Bernice was the one who made sure I had a crib to sleep in and set up everything for my mother, Helen, to bring me home. Bernice took the responsibility of caring for me as an infant and throughout my childhood while my parents worked. Although Bernice also worked full time, she still took the time to care for me.
In 1958, when I was 18 months old, Ray and Bernice married. I have been told that I danced in between them for their first dance. Most people thought I was their child. The truth is, I was their child, although not their biological child.
In 1961, Ray and Bernice bought their home in Dearborn. Being there made me feel very loved and secure. I spent all my weekends, school holidays, and summer vacations with them there. I also had my own room and made friends in their neighborhood. I remember learning to ride a bicycle in front of the Dearborn house.
Bernice also included me in her family. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Pericin, were like grandparents to me. I spent a lot of time at their home in Hamtramck. I remember Mrs Pericin’s wonderful cooking, her delicious potatoes, chicken, and alphabet soup. And Mr. Pericin would always have Dentine gum for me. He made his own wine, and he insisted that a glass of wine with dinner was good for my blood!
In 1966, Amy was born. I remember going to the hospital to bring her home. I was delighted! Bernice taught me how to be a responsible babysitter and everything about infant care. In 1968, Julie came along, and I had another baby to look after and love. Bernice was loving but strict. We knew if she gave you “the look,” she meant business.
Bernice was one of the most thoughtful and generous people I have ever known. She taught me to be hardworking and responsible and to help others. I was so fortunate to be in her life. I have many loving memories of Bernice. She inspired me in many ways, from my profession of nursing to my skill as a super shopper!! I will miss her dearly.”
An Active Mom
When her children, Amy and Julie, were small, Bernice volunteered for nursery school activities. She was also actively involved when work allowed for elementary and middle school field trips and events.
West Dearborn was a wonderful place to live. Bernice enjoyed participating in neighborhood activities in Dearborn/Cherry Hill neighborhood. The families on N. Elizabeth and Martha enjoyed throwing summer block parties – an excuse to take advantage of nice weather and opportunities to share favorite recipes and games. Bernice’s lemon squares and “striped Jello” were quite popular then and at the holidays. Although many families have since moved elsewhere they do try to keep in touch. They include the Fords, Roths, Rombacks, Ebelings, Tisseos, Behms, Parks, Ramms, Sarkozys, Sheridans, Robinsons, Martins, Bocks, Vandenboschs, Samyns, Freiwalds, Goodsels, and Andreius, to name but a few.
Summers in Canada
Bernice and Ray honeymooned on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada, and traveled throughout French Canada. Friends told them of a resort in small town of Southampton on Lake Huron that they checked out together. The Breaker’s Lodge, run by the Smith and later Cammidge families, became the Kostaneckis’ home away from home every summer for years. The Kostaneckis met some of their lifelong best friends there. The Dunlops, Calverts, Cambrays, Cromartys, Recklings, Reins, Ellis and Bruckmanns (to name but a few) met each summer to enjoy the lake and simple traditions of dining room meals, dance nights, bingo, casino night, and golf and tennis tournaments. Late night pizza, cards, games, puzzles and lots of reading were favorite pastimes for all. Bernice provided snacks and supplies for every occasion. She regularly packed the family car as though they were headed on months-long excursions instead of the normal two weeks. She loved it!
Bernice practiced physical therapy for more than 40 years. She started out working in hospitals and various nursing homes. She worked for some time for Arnold Homes and travelled all over the area to serve patients at the various homes run by the company. She also later worked for other companies providing therapy to athletes and patients dealing with chronic conditions and injuries. She ended her career at Garden City Osteopathic Hospital. Her reputation was well known, and for years after retiring, Bernice was recruited by multiple hospitals and health companies.
Bernice loved to work with her hands and make lovely things. She tried various crafts over the years. Her annual Christmas ornaments made for Amy and Julie’s school mates were legendary and sentimental favorites! She loved photography, stamping, sewing, quilting, country line dancing, and most of all, shopping. Bernice knew every store in the Detroit area. She frequented many dollar stores, the owners of which knew and loved her! When shopping, she liked to see and touch everything and really knew how to find a great deal. Her generosity knew no bounds. She would throw parties and have a gift or special item reserved for everyone. When HSN and QVC became popular, she ordered gifts and special items for everyone.
She was also an active member of a Croatian Club that focused on Croatian culture, dance, and music. The club also raised money for multiple charitable causes by hosting fashion shows and holding other cultural events.
Over the years, Bernice suffered a number of health challenges. One year, she slipped and fell on sheer ice and broke her shoulder and pelvis. Diabetes issues made walking difficult, and she needed a wheelchair.
When her health declined severely, Bernice moved to Tranquil Place, a private nursing care/assisted living residence in Livonia, run by Joyce Johnson. Joyce and her staff lovingly cared for Bernice as though she were family.
Although Bernice had a cardiac event and suffered some brain damage in 2012, she rallied and fought her way back, only to lose some to dementia again. However, she was resilient, cheerful, witty, happy, and always a joy to be around, even on the difficult days when her memory was cloudy.
Most importantly, she was a loving and beloved wife and mother, no matter her health status. And we will miss her steady, loving presence forever.