Bernice C. Durfee

Bernice Claire (Anderson) Durfee, who was born April 24, 1928, died December 11, 2019 at the age of 91. For 68 years she was the beloved wife of Wayne K. Durfee.

The daughter of the late Arnold Seldon Anderson and the late Olive Elizabeth (Kippax) Barton, she was the step-daughter of the late Carlton R. Barton. Raised in Barrington, RI she graduated from Barrington High School in 1945. She studied at the former Rhode Island State College, now the University of Rhode Island, graduating in the Class of 1949 receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany.

She furthered her education with graduate studies from 1949-1950 at Rhode Island State College under Dr. Vernon Cheadle, Chairman of the Botany Department and from 1950-1951, concentrating in microbiology and antibiotics screening, at Yale University under Dr. Paul R. Burkholder.

Bernice and Wayne were married on June 23, 1951. During their first year of marriage they lived at Fort Kearny, a WWI and WWII coastal defense installation on Narragansett Bay acquired by URI in 1946 for housing married faculty. In 1952 they moved to their present home of 67 years.

She was secretary of the Graduate Division of URI from 1951-1961 when she resigned to raise a family. She later worked for 18 years as a secretary for the Peace Dale Congregational Church until her retirement in 1989.

During the 1970’s, she taught Sunday School for several years and served as a 4-H Leader for several years of the Narragansett Nuggets. In 1995, Bernice and Wayne developed a timeline history of South Ferry and South County, RI which they presented upon request several times per year under the auspices of URI’s Office of Marine Programs. They also developed an oral presentation of excerpts from the Diary of Nailer Tom Hazard which they presented together numerous times.

Bernice was co-founder of the Carlton R. Barton and Olive E. Barton Scholarship as well as the Wayne K. and Bernice C. Durfee Aquaculture Merit Scholarship at URI. She also co-founded a special fund at the Rhode Island Foundation to establish and support two Heritage Flocks of Rhode Island Red Fowl at the South County Museum.

She will be remembered also for her love of gardening and time spent tending to her flowers. Her children recall how she always encouraged them to “do their best” and how she always looked at every glass as being “half full”.

Aside from her husband, she is survived by one daughter, Bonita R. “Bonnie” Durfee Lambert of Foster, RI; one son, William K. Durfee & his wife Wendy of West Greenwich; three grandchildren: Dr. Heather Tirpaeck, D.O. & her husband Dr. Lincoln Tirpaeck, D.O. of Longmeadow, MA; Alexis N. Durfee, R.N. & her fiancé Ryan Richard of Wilmington, NC and Damon Wayne Durfee of West Greenwich and by two great grandchildren Everett & Chloe Tirpaeck.

Her life will be celebrated at a memorial service at Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home, 659 East Greenwich Avenue, West Warwick on Friday, January 10 at 4:30 PM. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 3:00-4:30 PM. Interment in Glenford Cemetery, North Scituate will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory made to the Music Program at Peace Dale Congregational Church, 261 Columbia Street, Peace Dale, RI 02883-2491 will be appreciated.

Condolences may also be offered to her family and memories of her shared online at

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