Bernice Louise Horton Farley entered into God’s presence on October 01, 2022. She was born on March 16, 1937, in McMinnville, Tennessee, to Lerel Vale (L.V.) and Ruth Comer Horton. On Thanksgiving Day, 1954, she met the love of her life, Denver Altman Farley (March 1934 – October 2012), who happened to be visiting Georgia Christian School where she was a student. While Denver started his studies at Florida Christian College, they communicated by writing daily letters to each other, all of which survive to this day. In the years after Denver’s passing, Bernice would read the letters and comment that “it’s like Denver is sitting right here with me.”
Upon her graduation, they married on July 1, 1955, and she joined Denver in Temple Terrace, Florida, where he completed his studies to become a minister in the Church of Christ. The coming years would take them to many churches in Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, and see them welcome four children. Bernice adeptly managed the household, always creating a welcoming home within days of moving into a new parsonage. As “the preacher’s wife,” she was a consummate hostess, providing a welcoming atmosphere to hundreds of people at home and at church functions throughout the years. She taught Sunday School in the infants to kindergarten classes and supported Denver’s work as the solid, reliable, and loving partner he needed to successfully serve congregations. For over fifty years, they were involved full-time or part-time in the work of the Church.
Music was a vital aspect of her life. While in high school, she received professional training by Ray Walker of the Jordanaires Quartet and developed a beautiful soprano singing voice. As a teenager, she performed as part of the “Triplettes,” an all-girl trio that included her sister, Billie Ruth Horton Mason, and best friend, Mary Joyce Wisenbaker Green. Over the years, Bernice’s beautiful voice added richness, depth, and inspiration to the hundreds of Churches of Christ worship services she attended. In the 1970’s, she was a member of “The Singing Americans”, a Valdosta-based singing group that performed for the community and throughout the Southeast. Singing brought much joy to her throughout her life.
In addition, she was a classically trained pianist and organist who mastered not only the works of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, and many others, but could play modern and contemporary tunes with aplomb. A piano bench bursting with sheet music was a testament to her piano-playing prowess. For many years, she taught piano lessons to neighborhood children and occasionally managed Turney’s Baldwin piano store in Valdosta where she successfully sold numerous pianos and organs while overseeing the store.
Her love of music and art was further expressed in her oil paintings and pastel drawings, the sewing of designer clothes for herself and her children, interior decorating, and gourmet cooking. She passed on to her children a love of music and the arts as she raised them from infancy in an environment of music, reading, painting, and singing. Always mindful that the “preacher’s kids” would be held to a higher standard, she thoughtfully and bravely allowed her children to be themselves while instilling in them Christian values to live by.
Bernice lived the Christian life without fanfare and without seeking credit or attention for her acts of kindness. Whether passing a few dollars to someone who had no money, providing clothing and household goods to families in need, paying for medical care for a destitute family friend, sewing a special outfit for a daughter, recording textbooks for special education children, or sitting quietly and listening to someone pour out their worries and troubles, she exemplified the Christian spirit. Through many years of suffering through her own illnesses and declining health, she continued to do whatever she could to be an example to others. She is deeply loved by her children, and her influence will always be with them.
In 2009, she and Denver retired to Lake Park, Georgia, to live by her daughter, Andrea. In 2018, she moved to Peachtree City to live with her daughter, Laura. She is survived by her four children and their spouses: Andrea and Edward Fussell (Lake Park, Georgia), Laura and Hoyt Haynie (Peachtree City, Georgia), Mason and Marlene Farley (Bardstown, Kentucky), and Paul and Brittnye Farley (Adams, Tennessee). She is also survived by her brother, Bob Horton, and his wife, Twinkle, and a large extended family. She was pre-deceased by her parents and her sister, Billie Ruth Mason.
A private service will take place with burial in Dasher Cemetery in the shadow of where she and Denver met on that serendipitous day in 1954. Carson McLane Funeral Home is overseeing the arrangements. Condolences may be conveyed online at www.mclanecares.com.