Bernice Ilene (Stiffler) Peters

Bernice Ilene Stiffler Peters, 87, Westfield, Ind., formerly of Altoona, passed away Thursday.

She was born in Juniata Gap, daughter of Samuel Ross, a journeyman machinist with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Laura M. (Kane) Stiffler.

Surviving are her loving husband of 47 years, Eugene R. “Gene” Peters; their son, Mark; a brother, Harold Stiffler; a niece, Nan Stiffler Britton; and three nephews: Eric, David and Randall Stiffler.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Wilfred Stiffler.

Bernice formerly attended Mardorf Methodist Church with her family and was also a member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. Growing up, she enjoyed swimming, dancing and ice skating at Lakemont Park. She had a strong interest in music, literature and dramatics, studied piano from a young age and sang in the a capella choir at Altoona High School. She participated in numerous high school theatrical events, including “Plane Crazy,” a contemporary play about wartime hardships.

Bernice was a 1943 graduate of Altoona High School. She attended Penn State University, where she was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in arts and letters. During the program, she served a short time as a student elocution instructor for underprivileged children in Dover, Del., and ultimately earned the qualifications to teach English, speech and speech corrections.

After living on Long Island for several years, she moved to Philadelphia and earned an M.A. in library science from Drexel University in 1958. In 1958, she was also elected into the Beta Phi Mu honorary library science fraternity. Upon graduation from Drexel, she held the position of children’s librarian at the historic Abington Library in Jenkintown, Pa., where she showcased the works of favorite local author Kathryn Milhous, including the Caldecott Award winning story, “The Egg Tree.”

Bernice moved to Indiana in the late 1950s to be closer to other family members. There she served as a librarian/teacher at North Central High School but ultimately made her career with the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library System. Initially she served as a children’s librarian at the Brown, Emerson and Laurence branches. In 1964, while at the Brown branch, she was chosen by the American Library Association to support the “Library/USA” exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, where she worked on site for six weeks. Ultimately she served as head librarian at the Broadway, West Lane and Pike Libraries, retiring in 1988.

She married Eugene R. Peters on Jan. 8, 1966, and they had one son, Mark. For the last 40 years, she resided at her home in Westfield, Ind. She was a member of Carmel United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school and volunteered at the church’s “Tot Teen” shop and as a ladies aide. In her free time, she enjoyed sewing, gardening, traveling and animals. During her life, she had many animals, including Patty, her childhood Collie dog, and in later years, Mandy, a Fox Terrier, and several cats.

Friends will be received from 1 until the 2 p.m. funeral service today, Feb. 11, 2013, in the chapel of Carmel United Methodist Church, the Rev. Jack King officiating. Arrangements are by Leppert Mortuary, Smith Carmel Chapel, Carmel, Ind.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607; The Potter’s Wheel, 333 Jefferson Ave., Evansville, IN 47713; or Carmel United Methodist Church, 621 S. Range Line Road, Carmel, IN 46032.

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