Citizen Spotlight: Bernice Henson

Bernice Henson loves to share her flowers and seeds with neighbors on Excelsior Street (photo S Jason Cole).

Every nook and cranny outside Bernice Henson’s home on Excelsior Street is blooming with beautiful flowers and colorful plants. “I’ve always had flowerbeds wherever I’ve lived,” said 90-year-old Bernice. As a child, Bernice loved to collect seeds and tend to her little gardens learning all about how her plants grew and how to best care for them.  “When I was a little kid, that was how I played. I’d make flower beds and people would give me plants and I’d lug them home and put them in the ground and I’d get little tins and packages of seeds, and plant ‘em.” she recalled. She said as a child she didn’t know all of the names of plants but she could tell people where to find anything they were looking for. Now Bernice says she can name them all, “I can name every flower, maybe not all the trees, but I bet I can name every flower in Missouri,” said Bernice matter of factly.

Bernice moved to Excelsior Springs when she was just 19 years old and has lived here ever since. Her four sons Johnny, Jim, Jeff, and Jay all grew up here. She worked in the garment district of Kansas City for many years and still keeps a sewing room where she does alterations for friends and family. She lived for many years off of Southview Drive and had a huge yard full of flowers and vegetables. Her granddaughter, April lives there now and has continued to tend to the beauty that Bernice left behind.

Shortly after moving to the Downtown Villas, Bernice noticed the little gazebo across the street was looking kind of bland. She said the property managers had put down some landscape fabric and wood chips but she thought it needed a bit more. “I got a bunch of daffodil bulbs… I went over and brushed away some of the chips and made a little hole in that fabric and I put some of those bulbs in… I also scattered some seeds down there… and that spring, when they came up everyone, was just ooing and awing,” Bernice said. She said the property manager thought it looked so nice that they’ve allowed her to keep planting whatever she wants. “I’ve tried to plant perennials so they’ll go on long after I have,” she smiled.

Bernice said she wishes more people would plant flowers. Holding up her fingers about 4 inches apart she said, “I’ve got a little crack out here in front of the house… and I have a dandy flowerbed right on the sidewalk.” It’s not what we are, it’s what we do that matters most in life, said Bernice.  “As Christians, we ought to do something to share our lives, instead of just living to ourselves. If you share, you leave an impression, you leave a footprint, and that goes on and on and on,” she said.

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3 thoughts on “Citizen Spotlight: Bernice Henson”

  1. I live just a few houses up from her house on Southview, I always loved walking or driving by and admiring her beautiful yard. I’m a lot like her, I love flowers and plants to. I have them everywhere just like she did and does. She’s a very special lady indeed. ❤️

  2. Sherry and VicLuttrell Luttrell

    Bernice is such a lovely wonderful woman! She is so respectful not only of her flowers but people as well. Such an example of a godly woman!!! May she be here on earth many more years to bring her beautiful flowers to an otherwise drab world! 💘

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