Jones Museum exhibits The Bernadine Collection: Remembering a special lady through her special things

By | April 29, 2012

The Lillian E. Jones Museum re-opens with a flourish May 9 with a one-of-a-kind exhibit featuring items cherished by Bernadine Bennett Stockmeister.

Stockmeister was a huge presence in the Jackson County community throughout her life. She died May 2, 2011 at the age of 92.

“Bernadine was such a part of everything,” said Janet Riegel, president of the Jones Museum Board of Trustees. “It is wonderful to look back at everything she did through the pieces of her everyday life and remember so fondly all the fun she had and all the good she did.

“She was a remarkable lady.”

Stockmeister was an early advocate of the Jones Museum in 1995, serving faithfully on organizing committees and supporting all museum functions until her death.

The Cambrian, which was built by Lillian Jones’ father Edwin, figures as prominently in the exhibit as it did in Stockmeister’s life. She was the driving force behind saving the historic hotel from the wrecking ball in the 1980s and its revitalization to become low-income apartments in the 1990s.

“Mom was the general contractor on the Cambrian and she was really proud of her work on that project,” said her daughter Nea Henry. “She loved to talk about her $3 million dollar trip to Washington to save the Cambrian. She wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone and so she met four presidents with never a bit of nervousness.

“I would go with her to national plumbing conventions and she would talk to everyone. She would be recognized for her work and then keep on working.”

As hard as Bernadine worked in her life, she enjoyed herself as well. Henry struggles to come up with a club or civic group to which her mother didn’t belong. Every Christmas Bernadine would bake nearly 5,000 cookies for church and civic group cookie exchanges.

“Her calendar looked like chicken scratches because she was always on the go,” Henry said. “Her goal was to always have at least three things to do or places to go each day. Most of the time, she did many more than three things.”

More than 50 of Bernadine’s signature hats will be on display along with historical photos, memorabilia and trinkets that show how Bernadine’s life mirrored the times of the country. Henry estimates her mother had more than 100 hats.

One of Bernadine’s most familiar hats is the one she often wore in the Apple Festival parades riding in the Stockmeister company’s original 1947 Studebaker truck. The black felt hat with large white feathers belonged to her great-great-grandmother and was worn on the ship ride from Ireland to America in the 1800s.

“It is wonderful to re-open the Jones Museum with this exhibit because Bernadine Stockmeister was such a strong, positive force in the community,” said Director Megan Malone. “Her enthusiasm still radiates through her belongings – you can’t help but smile when you see the pieces. Her life is something the community should study and cherish.”

The exhibit will begin with an open house at 7 p.m. May 9. The exhibit will continue through Aug. 15 during regular museum hours, which are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Appointments can be made for special tours for groups large and small by calling 286-2556.

The Lillian E. Jones Museum is an educational, historical and cultural museum that provides unique opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The museum, built in 1867, was home to the Jones family from 1921-1991. Lillian, the third child and only daughter of Edwin and Lola Jones, bequeathed her home to the City of Jackson to be used as an educational, historical and cultural center.

Museum memberships and donations support Lillian Jones’ vision by providing free admission to the museum and free resources in the on-site Carriage House Genealogy Center

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