On July 30th a lovely thing happened, Gloria met the one who gave her life and loved her best – Jesus. Our mother and grandmother was born Gloria Helen Bernardini on October 25, 1939 in Erie, Pennsylvania, at home to Benvenuto Carlo and Helen (Wernicki) Bernardini. She was a first generation American and grew up in a tri-lingual household – Italian, Polish and English. Gloria graduated from McDowell High School in 1957. Her family owned and operated Bernard Block and Brick of which she was an integral part. Gloria understood from an early age the value of hard work and the extraordinary opportunity a life in America provides.
On September 7, 1963, she married John Kozlowski and they had two children – Tracie Marie and John Joseph. Those early years saw them raising kids, growing grapes for Welch’s National Grape Cooperative, and buying Bernard Block and Brick from Gloria’s father, Ben. In 1983, Gloria chose a different path for herself and children moving West. She contemplated moving back to Sarzana, Italy. But, ultimately decided her father had worked too hard for his citizenship and for all of us to have a chance at the American dream.
After a brief year in Sheridan, Wyoming, Gloria relocated her family to Missoula in 1985 so her children would have the opportunity to attend Catholic schools and receive an excellent education. Both graduated from Loyola Sacred Heart which remains a lifelong blessing for our family. In 1987 she met Douglas Roark – a wonderful man with quick wit, sparkling Welsh eyes, and great stories to tell. Their adventure began because he, a Ford man, put a new motor in her Chevy truck after the old one overheated due to a lack of engine oil. He overlooked her utter inability to deal with anything mechanical because “your mother is a good cook – I mean a REALLY good cook - and can a make a whale of a pie”. They would be married for 29 years until his passing in 2018.
Gloria was passionate about the United States and its future. Her zeal for the ideals put forth in the U.S. Constitution were born out in her volunteer work. She was involved with the Missoula Pachyderms, a founding member of the Missoula Tea Party Patriots, a committed advocate and partner for Judge Brenda Desmond’s Veterans Treatment Court, a member of the Chief Joseph American Legion post in Lolo, Martha Sewing Ministry and St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. She was an unabashed Christian, believer in the second amendment, pro-life, and an ardent supporter of Montana Teen Challenge.
Gloria loved her children and grandchildren and was unfailingly proud of every one of us. We never had to wonder if we were loved or wanted. She prayed for our family unceasingly and believed each would add to the incredible fabric of this country. She sang to us every year on our birthdays, raised beautiful flowers, and blessed all with her cooking, sewing, and crocheting.
Ultimately metastatic ovarian cancer claimed Gloria’s life. Toward the end she missed her own mother terribly and was ready to see her again. We are grateful for the loving care she received from the outstanding nurses and doctors at St. Patrick hospital. They saw her as a person and gave her the utmost respect at a truly difficult time in her life. Mom and our family were also blessed by the love and support Fathers Wang and Drury provided along with friends Kay Bennett, Mary Meese, Pat Lamb and Margaret Thompson.
Gloria was preceded in death by her parents Ben and Helen Bernardini, sisters Betty King and Rose Marie Thompson all of Erie, Pennsylvania; and her husband, Douglas Roark, of Missoula, Montana. She is survived by her children Tracie (Brent) Roeder – Fort Shaw, MT, and John (Katie) Kozlowski –
Boise, ID. Also surviving are six grandchildren Ben and Caroline Roeder; Zoe, India, Ella Kozlowski and Riley Murray.
Gloria’s family asks you join them in a celebration of her life. Viewing (5:00-7:000 pm), Rosary and Vigil (7:00 pm) will be Friday, August 19th at Garden City Funeral Home. Funeral Mass will be held at St. Anthony’s (10:30 am), Saturday, August 20h, reception immediately following. Burial (10:30 am) Monday, August 22nd will be at the Western Montana Veterans’ Cemetery. Memorials in lieu of flowers may be made to: Montana Teen Challenge, Loyola Sacred Heart High School, St. Patrick’s Foundation, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, or American Legion Chief Joseph Unit 135, Lolo.