Bernice Sciorra Anfuso
Army veteran, high-school English teacher, travel agent, active parishioner at Old Mission Santa Barbara (lector/docent/office assistant), and so much more – died quietly and peacefully on Sunday evening, August 13th. She was 96.
Hers was a rich and rewarding life. She was born to Albert and Alice Sciorra in New York City in 1920 (“He opened the first diner in Manhattan”), and joined the Woman’s Army Corps when she heard about Pearl Harbor. After basic training, Bernice was asked to join Special Services, the Army’s entertainment division (“They musta’ heard me singing in the shower”) where she worked as an entertainer (acting and singing), as well as planning and supervising recreation activities for the Army.
After the war, Bernice returned to school at Smith College, graduating in 1949 (after spending her junior year studying in Italy), and continued at UCLA where she earned a M.A. in Theater Arts in 1957. It was in Los Angeles where she met and married Giulio Anfuso, her love of 55 years prior to his passing in 2005.
When Bernice was forty, she returned to UCLA to pursue a credential in teaching, and was hired to teach 7th- and 8th-grade English at Beverly Hills High School. (She shared many hilarious stories of her interactions with that school’s later-to-be-famous students!)
Never one to retire, Bernice tapped her extensive experience in traveling the world and joined the staff of TravelWorld (now TravelStore) when she and Giulio moved to Santa Barbara in 1981. She became very proficient in the cultures of the Far East, Western Africa, and Europe, and planned/operated/escorted many group study tours for the Franciscan friars at the Old Mission (including Fr. Virgil Cordano and Fr. Vincent Mesi) and others.
Days before she left us, Bernice was still dancing in perfect rhythm for the staff and residents at Cliff View Terrace when the volunteer musicians performed, still singing three verses of “O Sole Mio” – in Italian – in a strong and dramatic voice, and still telling her caregiver what she thought of “those @#$%&! drivers” on the way to her doctor appointments. She was really one of a kind.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held for dear Bernice at Old Mission Santa Barbara, on Friday, September 1, at 12:00 noon.
Bernice was so very fond of the staff at Friendship Center (89 Eucalyptus Ln, Santa Barbara 93108) that we know she would prefer that donations be made to this wonderful non-profit organization in lieu of flowers.