Peacefully and with grace, after a brief but spirited fight with pancreatic cancer, Bernadette Scarani Mahfood left this world on December 22, 2015.
Left to mourn her loss are her children, Brian, Nadia and Leila; her grandchildren, Ruby and Henry; mother, Joan, sister, Georgeanne; brothers, Steve and Louis; and her partner and love, Walken Ratajczyk.
Bernadette leaves a legacy of love, artistry, mentorship and advocacy through her work and community leadership. She was instrumental in curating the Frozen River Film Festival, organizing Family Art Day and starting the Winona Area Pollinators, the River Arts Alliance and the Levee Park Fence Project.
Born on March 4, 1944, Bernadette was a trailblazer, and loved a challenge. At 18, she got her pilot’s license and at 22 she joined the Peace Corps and headed to Africa, where she taught math at an all-boys high school in Uganda. She met another American teacher at the school. They eventually married — the first Peace Corps marriage — and produced the first Peace Corps baby, Brian. About four years later, while in Tunisia, a beautiful baby girl, Nadia, came into her life. Her joy was multiplied when Leila completed her family. Her light continues to shine in their eyes.
In 1990, Bernadette moved to Winona, drawn to the creative community here. When she wasn’t on the road in her van travelling to art shows, she could be found in her shop or at a meeting (or a pot luck!) planning, instigating and rallying others to action.
A celebration of Bernadette’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 2, 2016, at the Masonic Temple, 225 Main Street, Winona.
In lieu of flowers, the family will be accepting donations to defray final expenses, or you can make a donation in Bernadette’s memory to the Frozen River Film Festival, Family Art Day, the Winona Area Pollinators or the River Arts Alliance.
Shine on, Bernadette.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Bernadette’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.