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Bellville Times 



Bernice Estell Volkening passed away peacefully in her childhood home in Cat Spring, Texas on November, 10, 2010.  She was a loving mother, doting grandmother and great grandmother, devoted wife, dedicated church leader, talented teacher, mentor and friend. 

Mrs. Volkening was born March 3, 1918 to Herman Adolph Strauss and Olga Kollatschny-Strauss in the small German community of Cat Spring, Texas in Austin County.  She learned early on to mix simple pleasures with hard work, responsibility and community service.  While attending the 10-grade, two room Cat Spring School, she played the pump organ at St. John Lutheran Church, fed chickens and pigs, milked cows and helped her father at his general store.  She quickly adopted his credo, “Mann kann doch Leute helfen” (People can help people).

Following her high school graduation and lacking sufficient funds for a university education, she moved to Houston to attend Massey Business College and was soon employed as a bookkeeper at a wholesale firm.  At this time she met Vertis Volkening from Cat Spring’s neighboring town of Bellville.  After a 3-year courtship, they married on June 15, 1940 and moved to Freeport, Texas where her husband became one of the first chemical engineers at the newly opened Dow Chemical plant.  They resided in the Brazosport area for more than 30 years while raising four children, being founding members of the St. Paul American Lutheran Church of Freeport and being active in numerous school and community organizations.   

In addition to being an active and devoted mother, Bernice felt the need to help support the family financially.  Once her youngest child entered elementary school, she began earning her college degree by taking extension courses, night classes and commuting to local community colleges to earn academic credits.  Her industriousness was never better demonstrated than in the summer of 1961. Needing 21 credit hours to graduate from the University of Houston, she earned 22 hours during two 6-week summer sessions, earned her BS degree in Mathematics in August, and in September was teaching mathematics at Brazosport Senior High School.

After two decades of teaching high school math, mentoring and inspiring students and fellow teachers alike, she retired.  Moving first to Bellville, she eventually returned to her childhood home which is located next to her beloved father’s general store in Cat Spring.  Bernice reactivated her service to St. John Lutheran Church, indulged her talent in writing and art, actively embraced the activities of her hometown and primarily doted on her four children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Bernice was preceded in death by her parents, Herman and Olga Strauss, her husband, Vertis Bertram Volkening, sister Evelyn Fricke and brother-in-law Hilmer Fricke and brother Wilbert Dale Strauss and sister-in-law Dorcie Strauss.

She is survived by her children, daughter Sheila and husband Arman Prescott, daughter Janis and husband Stephen Ottmers, son Larry Volkening and son Ronnie Volkening.  Her grandchildren include Arman Prescott, Jr., Michael Prescott, Gretchen Ottmers, and Ronnie’s children Jennifer and Joshua Volkening.   Her great grandchildren are Alex, Lauren and Amber Prescott, children of Arman, Jr. and wife Donna; and Ashley and Brittany Prescott, children of Michael.

The funeral service was held on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at St. John Lutheran Church in Cat Spring followed by interment at Kollatschny Cemetary, Cat Spring with Pastor Kevin Haug officiating.

Organizations which were important to Bernice include St. John Lutheran Church of Cat Spring, Bellville Hospital Auxiliary and the Cat Spring Volunteer Fire Department.  Individuals wishing to honor Bernice with a memorial may consider these or a beneficiary of their choice.


Posted by Joy Neely


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