Berniece Leone Bishop was born in rural Melrose,Wisconsin to Norwegian-American parents Leonard Johnson and Nina Danielson Johnson April 20,1933. She was in the exact middle of 9 siblings and attended Sunnyside School, a one-room classroom combined with grades 1-8 in rural Blair, Wisconsin. She was a member of the 4H Club, played the French Horn in the school band and graduated with honors at Central High School in Duluth, Minnesota.
After discovering Jazz in her late teens she traveled to Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland to see live performances by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita Day, Eddy Condon, Xavier Cugat and later with friends founded The Duke Ellington Fan Club, which allowed her to sit at his table in an underground club in Chicago. She said “I was allowed in the Black nightclubs where I was treated like a queen. It was considered illegal to be there, but I’m glad I was not afraid of anything. People who like Jazz are different, you know. Music and dance were always the bottom line in my life”. She danced to live performances by Glen Miller, Mitch Miller and Ray Anthony.
Working for a magazine distributing company allowed her to travel to different cities selling Life Magazine. Later she relocated to California where she met her future husband E. Terry Bishop who would be the father of her four children. After years of traveling the U.S. they settled in his birth city St. Joseph, Missouri where she has lived for 54 years. She was a devoted mother to her children and grandchildren.
Her passions were gardening, with an emphasis on tulips and vegetables, sewing, cooking, baking, dancing, vintage films and Jazz. She loved Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas. She danced the Polish Hop, Polka, Rumba, Samba and the Cha Cha. Always active in her community she worked as a window decorator, volunteered with disabled children, volunteered at Green Acres, was a member of the Moila “Sewing Club” for children’s toys, was a P.T.A. officer for Mark Twain School, and a member of the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art and the St. Joseph Museum system.
She was a member of First Lutheran Church. For 17 years (beginning in 1974) she worked at Peach Tree in Inventory Control. For 20 years she worked as a Bookkeeper for Electronic Alarm Devices.
She is preceded in death by her daughter Kelley Diane Bishop and her granddaughter Megan Becktell Kastendeick.
Her children are Jacqueline Bishop (Herbert Halpern), New Orleans; Lorelei Becktell (Robert Becktell) Houston; Dennis Bishop, Houston and six grandchildren, Hannah, Madison, and Mason Becktell, Dane and Cole Halpern (Courtney), and Dr. Nina Bishop and 5 great-grandchildren. Her siblings are Victor Johnson (Jean), Fern Durbin and Elizabeth Zurbuchen with many nieces and nephews.
Special gratitude goes to Kenny and Janet Ruff, Doug Paden, and St. Joseph Senior Living, and Meierhoffer Funeral Home& Crematory.
Burial will be at the family cemetery at North Beaver Creek Lutheran Church (White Church) Cemetery in Ettrick, Wisconsin on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Family and friends are welcome for visitation from 10-11 a.m. at church prior to burial. Online guest book and obituary at and
Donations in her name can be made to the Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art and St. Joseph Museum.

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