Bernice Sugg

Obituary of Bernice Sugg

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Bernice Humphrey Sugg “You are so beautiful to me” Bernice Humphrey was born on October 29, 1919 in Semora, NC. Born on the family farm, Bernice was one of six children and the only daughter from the union of Charlie Troy and Lovey Clay Humphrey. Bernice entered the first grade in the fall of 1925 at the Matthew Hale Coleman Elementary School in South Boston, VA. After attending the school for a short time, Bernice’s mother Lovey became ill, she sent Bernice to live with her Aunt Dorah Humphrey Jones and later with her Aunt Leona Humphrey (Jeffress) in Durham, NC. Funeral Services are to be held at 11am on Sunday Morning at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in South Boston, VA (address:1812 N Main St.). Interment approximately 1pm at Rose Garden Cemetery. Repast at Mt. Olive Baptist Church from 2-3:30 pm. In the fall of 1927, Bernice enrolled in the 3rd grade at W.B. Pearson Elementary School, Durham, NC. She was living on Dunbar Street with Aunt Leona at the time and attended this school until she completed the 5th grade. In 1930 at the age of 11, Bernice moved in with her Uncle Nathaniel and Aunt Ella Kent Humphrey due to her mother’s continued illness. A CME Minister, Uncle Nathaniel was periodically transferred from church to church. Soon after she moved in with her Uncle and Aunt, they were transferred to a church in Los Angeles, CA. Uncle Nathaniel was married to Ella J. Kent who was the maternal aunt of her future husband, Irvin D. Sugg. From 6th grade until 9th grade, Bernice attended school in East Los Angeles. In the fall of 1934, Bernice and her cousin Ruth enrolled in the 10th grade at the Polytechnic High School, an elite private school in an integrated area of Los Angeles. While at Polytechnic, she attended school with movie stars such as "Buckwheat" of the "Little Rascals." After 11th grade, after Uncle Nathaniel’s tour was over, the family returned to South Boston. In the fall of 1936, Bernice enrolled at Person County Training School, Roxboro, NC where she graduated in the spring of 1937. She enrolled at North Carolina College, Durham, NC in the fall of 1937, majoring in business. She graduated from North Carolina College in June 1941. Her first job was at the Registrar's Office of Winston-Salem State Teacher's College, Winston-Salem, NC. Bernice first met her future husband, Irvin Douglas Sugg (whom she fondly referred to as Doug), while she was attending elementary school in South Boston, VA. He was several years ahead of her at the time. While she was living in California, her Aunt Ella even suggested that one day she should marry Irvin Sugg. As fate would have it, Bernice married Irvin in June 16, 1942 at her in-laws home at 1733 North Main Street, South Boston, VA at the age of 23. At the outbreak of World War II, Bernice took a job at the War Department, Accounting Division in Washington, DC. She was able to obtain higher wages when she obtained a job as a typist in the Recorder of Deeds Office in Washington, DC. She was later promoted to accounting clerk. In November of that year, her first child, Norma Jean was born. The ending of World War II brought more changes to Bernice's life. In August of 1945, her second child, Judith Kaye was born in Washington, DC. About three months after Judith's birth, she and her family moved back to South Boston, VA. They were living at 1733 North Main Street at this time. In the spring of 1947, she moved again to Durham, NC to have her third child. Irvin, Jr. was born in July of 1947. During this time, her husband was renovating a house in South Boston so that the family could return there after Irvin, Jr. was born. The Sugg Family often took long vacations throughout the Northeast. Nine months after one of these vacations to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Shirley Denise was born in 1955. The youngest child of Irvin and Bernice was Bryant Lee who was born in South Boston on Friday the 13th, 1963. They say behind every great man is a great woman, and that was indeed the case with Bernice. With a high priority on educational achievement and natural talents in business and law, Bernice insisted that she would never marry a man that did not graduate from college. After encouraging Irvin to finish college at Virginia Union University, she helped Irvin gain acceptance to law school, and coached him to pass the bar in his second year of law school and ultimately graduate cum laude. During this process, Bernice accumulated a substantial amount of legal knowledge in her own right . Bernice used this legal background to build her husband’s successful law practice, Bernice lobbied relentlessly to the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor of Virginia for Irvin to be appointed as a judge. Her efforts were successful and Douglas was appointed as a judge in 1975. In the early 1950s, while her husband was in law school, Bernice began working at the Person County Training School as a typing and business teacher. During that time, she commuted from South Boston to North Carolina and brought two of her children (Judith and Irvin) with her to attend school in Person County. When Irvin graduated from law school in the spring of 1953, Bernice resigned her teaching job and became the Office Manager in their newly established law firm in South Boston. While working in the law firm, she became an accomplished legal clerk such that she was able to research the law and write all types of legal documents. Bernice formed her own business after she took and passed the Virginia Insurance Broker's Examination. She became the first black insurance broker in Southern Virginia. Bernice helped establish and managed a large portfolio of real estate throughout Halifax. Douglas, Bernice and their family lived in South Boston until he retired from the bench and moved to Hampton, VA, where they enjoyed retirement around a host of family and friends. Bernice is survived by five children: Norma Jean Whitted (George), Judith Sugg Scott, Irvin Douglas Sugg, Jr. (Frances), Shirley Sugg Scott (Jon), and The Hon. Bryant Lee Sugg; sister-in-law Lottie Humphrey; 14 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and loved ones. She is preceded in death by her beloved husband of 68 years Irvin Douglas Sugg and her brothers: Charlie (Buh) Humphrey; Carnel Humphrey; Clarence (Pete) Humphrey; Robert Humphrey and Roger Humphrey (who died in infancy). Bernice will be remembered as a woman who always spoke her mind. We love her for her laughter and broad smile, biting sense of humor, her strength and unfailing work ethic, piano playing, cooking and for passing down family history through countless colorful anecdotes. “Mama” will be treasured by her children and grandchildren for raising them by the houseful with loving discipline and a warm personality that fills the room. Bernice, you are truly unforgettable.
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