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Archiving Our Church History - Bernice Lemley

The history of First Presbyterian Church of Parkersburg is now in the hands of Bernice Lemley.  She is now busily engaged in research with Frieda Owens, (PhD, Philosophy); who is writing the updated history of the church for the 50-year Homecoming Celebration 2011 of our newest church home.  Frieda is recently retired from her post as Assistant Superintendent of Wood County Schools.

The church archives has recently been moved into secured, accessible space where researchers and planners are welcome to search through wonderful materials in preparation for the Homecoming and other church events.  Mail to: Bernice R. Lemley, at the church address: 1341 Juliana Street, Parkersburg, WV, 26101.  Email: archives@fpcparkersburg.org or brlemley@suddenlink.net.  Phone messages for appointments may be left at the church number: 304.422.5426.

Bernice's archival interest started as an avocation with three downtown Presbyterian churches in Rochester New York which merged in 1974.  Professionally she administered an epidemiologic patient registry at the University of Rochester Cancer Center.  When the churches merged, she worked with Rev. David K. McMillan (Central Church pastor) to rescue the archives of First, Central and Brick Presbyterian Churches whose foundings pre-dated the city (1815-1823).  Their archives documented the history of Rochester's founding.   First Church was the mother church of every Presbyterian Church in the region.  Central Church reflected its solidarity in social justice, from the abolitionist movement with member & publisher Frederick Douglass,  to the women's movement with member Susan B. Anthony and the civil rights and Vietnam War protestors of 1960-1970's. Brick Church  founded the city's commercial life and social mission, e.g., Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross

Avocation became vocation at the American College of Physicians in Philadelphia in 1979  where Bernice organized the archives and records management program.  Retiring in 1997, she organized the Solis-Cohen family collection on a grant at Thomas Jefferson University before returning home to Vienna, WV, where she later joined the choir at First Presbyterian.  Beginning professional life in music education (1956), her response to the question, "What do you do?" has always been "Medicine's my living, music's my life."

A Few Photos from the Past (Click on Photos to Enlarge)