LYMAN — Having grown up in the shadow of Thunderbolt mountain, Bernice Walker has enjoyed 90 years of Wyoming residency. Born on May 10, 1926, to George and Helen Rasmussen of Robertson, she watched the valley change around her.
When asked if she enjoys small-town life, her response is simple and sincere: “Oh yes, I wouldn’t have anything else.”
She worked hard as a young girl.
“I didn’t help mother in the house. I went with dad everywhere. I probably was his favorite,” she said of growing up on the family ranch.
A true Wyoming girl, she found joy in the simple tasks of life in the foothills of the Uintas.
“I knew I had to get up and go milk the cows because I knew my brother wasn’t going to go do it. I liked that,” she said, “getting up early in the morning on a horse, watching the sun come up.”
Educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Robertson, she grew up close to her siblings and neighbors.
“We played hooky out of school once,” Bernice said. “The teacher then was my sister in-law. We went down by the river to eat our lunch. We didn’t think she saw us, but she was on top of the schoolhouse watching us all the time!”
“She was always in trouble,” Spencer Eyre said with a laugh, referring to his grandmother’s younger days.
Working first as a cook for a group of traveling sheep shearer for 20 years and then as a lunch lady for 30 years, Bernice is comfortable in the kitchen.
“She’s the only lady I know who can make a good meal out of nothing,” Spencer said.
“You have to sometimes,” Bernice replied.
At the age of 18, Bernice met her sweetheart, Claude Orson Walker, at a basketball game in Mountain View. Claude offered Bernice a ride home that evening “in an old car you could hear coming from Lyman all the way out in Robertson,” she reminisced.
“To me, he was the best kind of man. He was just a kind person … to everybody. He’d always have something to pull on you … My mother loved him,” she said of her sweetheart.
A man of mischief and hard work, Claude has been missed since his passing a year ago. Bernice said she and her late husband enjoyed driving down to the Mountain View Drive Inn to get chicken strips.
Bernice and Claude have six children, all but one of whom have made their homes in the Bridger Valley. Those six children have gone on to fill Bernice’s home and picture frames with 16 grandkids, 39 great-grandkids and one great-great-grandbaby.
“I’m proud of all of them, they’re all good people,” she said.
Never known to speak unkindly about anyone, Bernice’s philosophy is: “Most everybody is good, but sometimes you get a bad one.”