Bernice B Freeman

June 17, 1942 ~ June 25, 2023 (age 81) 81 Years Old
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Bernice Freeman Obituary

Ms. Bernice Blake Baul Freeman, 81, passed away on Sunday, June 25, 2023 at Memorial Hospital following a sudden illness. She was born to the union of Louise (Owens) and Hartie Blake, Sr., on June 17, 1942, in Oxford, Mississippi. She was her mother’s second born and her dad’s sixth. The family relocated to South Bend where Bernice attended Harrison School and graduated from Washington High School. She later graduated from Northwestern School of Respiratory Therapy in Chicago, Illinois. She loved the big City and lived in Chicago for over 22 years before returning to South Bend. 

Bernice was raised in a Christian home and was a member of Ardmore LaSalle Church of Christ under the leadership of Pastor Hardie Blake, Jr.

Bernice loved to help others and was a giver; when she received she happily gave to others. She was able to secure employment that enabled her to live out her desire to help others. She worked in Respiratory Services at North Lake Methodist Hospital in Gary, Indiana; South Bend Workforce Development Services, the Youth Services Bureau Porch Light Program where she assisted young moms with life skills and how to properly raise children. She also worked with runaways. Her most recent position was at South Bend Heritage Foundation where she assisted residents of Mutual Homes navigate through various community resources and property issues.

In her mid-forties Bernice was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Her journey with breast cancer gave her a desire to educate women on breast cancer and early detection. This led to her founding the nonprofit Reaching Out, Inc. When Bernice went to breast cancer events she never wore her prosthesis because she wanted women to know that YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT BREAST. In late 2021 she founded a nonprofit, the African American Resource & Cultural Center. The agency’s aim was to connect all residents with community resources.

Bernice served on numerous boards that included Camp Raybird Ministries, Grace Community Center, the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation, UCADA, Ca$h Plus Coalition, Community Allies. She was also Commissioner for the South Bend Human Rights Commission. In her late seventies she joined the “Ladies of Essence,” an organization that she dearly loved and devoted much time to.

Recognizing her countless contributions to the South Bend community, Bernice was nominated for the YWCA woman of the year; MLK’s community service award and the City of South Bend’s Black History Award. In 2023 she received the “Ain’t I A woman award and   Black Expo’s Kwanzaa Honoring the Elders award. 

Bernice enjoyed spending time with her family and friends and being out in the community. She loved gardening, shopping — especially for clothes. She was a fashionista and could literally tell you a story about every outfit she wore. SHE LOVED LIFE and had the energy level of a toddler! She and her sister Gladys were the family energizer bunnies. 

Bernice leaves to cherish her memory three children, DeLonda Blake of South Bend; Kimberly Blake-McConnell of San Antonio, Texas and Andre (and Lori) Baul of Dallas, Texas; nine grandchildren, Brian (Angela) Blake, Brianna Kelley, LaShay and Hosea McConnell; Tyrae, Jae’sha, India, Christian and Andre Baul; seven great grandchildren, Sammara  and Shari’ona Kelley; Dreyana Morrow, Aniya, Tyler and Aaliyah Johnson and Khaza Baul; her siblings, Varnia Johnson, Gladys Muhammad, Bessie Dickson, Dorine Smith, Sharon (Calvin) Macon, Jessie (John) Whitaker, Forestine (A.D.) Jackson; Bemis, Hardie (Perl), David (Ruth), Fred, Walter and Robert Blake; special cousin, Hubert “Sonny” Owens and an uncle, Dell Owens, along with a host of other relatives, Godchildren, and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, three siblings, Louise Lewis, Emmer Caldwell and Creasie White; a sister in law, Geraldine Blake; brothers in law, John-Willie Johnson, Herbert Smith, Alfonza Ward and Ulysses White. 

Bernice impacted many lives and was well loved. Her sister Forestine would always tell her she needed to rest to which Bernice responded, “I’m gonna move as long as God lets me; I will get plenty of rest when I get to Heaven. Sleep on dear sister and take your rest; although we all love you, God loves you best.

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June 30, 2023

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Cobb Funeral Home
3525 S. Michigan Street
South Bend, IN 46614

July 1, 2023

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Rhema Word International Ministries
802 East Mishawaka Ave
Mishawaka, IN 46544

Funeral Service
July 1, 2023

12:00 PM
Rhema Word International Ministries
802 East Mishawaka Ave
Mishawaka, IN 46544


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