Commers, Bernice

Washington County’s oldest resident will be sitting front and center in this year’s Wellman Independence Day celebration.

Bernice Commers was named grand marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade. At nearly 105 years old, she is Washington County’s oldest resident.

She will ride in an all-terrain vehicle alongside Chrissy Miller, the activities director of Parkview Manor, the assisted living facility where Commers resides.

“She’s a hoot,” Miller said. “She is one of our greatest.”

Commers has managed to maintain her sense of style with the help of her daughter, Nancy Scott, who frequently visits her mother at Parkview to do her hair and nails. 

In preparation for her special appearance, Scott plans to spend the morning dressing and styling her mother in her Fourth of July best. 

In her younger days, Commers loved to dance — something she made time for when she retired in 1979, at the age of 64, after decades of teaching in Wellman. 

Her passion for dancing was almost as strong as her faith. She was a devout member of the First Baptist Church in Wellman for as long as she can remember.

Scott recalls her mother often saying, “If the doors of the church are open, I’m going to be there.” 

In addition to being heavily involved in the church, Commers was a member of the International Association of Rebekah, at the time a service-oriented organization for women.

One of Commers’ most notable accomplishments was creating the first special education program in the state of Iowa.

She and two other teachers began the program, which was the first of its kind in Washington County. It became a model for other programs in the state, Scott said.

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