Cover photo for Bernice Beckerman's Obituary
1926 Bernice 2022

Bernice Beckerman

November 1, 1926 — October 7, 2022

Bernice Lois Beckerman made known her wish to be at home to the end. “You’ll have to carry me out of here,” she said, and neither strokes nor floods nor pandemic could weaken her resolve. Surrounded by loving family, home was where she passed away on the night of October 6, 2022, following a week-long hospitalization---just a few weeks short of her 96th birthday. She was eulogized by son-in-law Rabbi Joel Berman, with Rabbi Ranon Teller officiating, at funeral services held October 9 at Emanu El Memorial Park. Shiva was cut short by the Sukkot holiday.
She showed her independent nature as a very small child in her hometown of Waco when she insisted on being called Bunny rather than Bernice. Bunny’s musical talent, plus the determination and persistence that it took to realize her childhood ambition of joining an orchestra, was also evident at a very early age. By high school she was already playing violin with the Waco Symphony Society. After she graduated from North Texas State in Denton in 1949, she joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a viola player, having switched instruments during college. Because her parents insisted upon a fallback to music, she had learned to operate a comptometer, and this stood her in good stead after high school and during summers at a time when many orchestras did not play a full season.
In 1950 Bunny married Dallas Symphony bassoonist Marty Beckerman and they moved north in 1953 when he was hired by the Minneapolis Symphony, later the Minnesota Orchestra. Overcoming sexism in the profession, she secured her own position with that orchestra in 1955. Daughter Cheryl arrived on the scene very soon after, followed by Elicia a few years later. Bunny balanced the responsibilities of a working mother before it was common. On top of that, she was active throughout her career in musicians’ union committees and negotiations, as well as other causes and projects. Like most musicians of her era, she also taught on the side. When her marriage ended in the mid-1970s, she returned to Texas, now a single working mother, and after a couple of years playing as a substitute, she joined the Houston Symphony as well as continuing involvement with ICSOM, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.
Bunny, who eventually consented to be called Bernice in some settings, retired in 1996 at age 70, but she didn’t slow down. She continued to teach, play chamber music, stay active in her synagogue, and travel and host travelers from around the world through the organization Friendship Force International. Her involvements were many, reflecting her keen interest in the world around her, but special mention must be given to an Elderhostel program showcasing the arts scene in Houston that she helped to develop and run for many years after retirement.
Upbeat
, the title of the Houston Symphony Musicians newsletter that she edited for years, sums up an attitude that persisted even when life was not easy. Bunny was an optimist, open-minded and willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, thoughtful, kind, and generous. Predeceased by her parents, Dave and Frances Lebowitz of Waco, older brother Leon, and brother-in-law Hy Warshaw, she is survived by her daughters Cheryl (Joel Berman) and Elicia, grandchildren Deana and Eitan Beckerman Berman, sister Shirley Warshaw, sister-in-law Elaine Lebowitz, nieces, nephews, and their children and grandchildren, as well as devoted caregivers, chief among them, Serinda Ali. We who knew and loved this vibrant woman mourn her passing deeply. Donations in her memory can be made to Congregation Brith Shalom, Yad Sarah in Israel, Women for Women International, or the progressive cause of your choice.
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