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Bessie M. Pershouse

August 8, 1927 - May 31, 2023

Burial Date May 31, 2023

Funeral Home Layton Funeral Home

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Bessie Margaret Pershouse (nee Skillman) passed away peacefully at the Rolling Hills Care Center in Clinton Township, NJ on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at the age of 95.

Bessie was a lifelong resident of Bernardsville.  She was born on August 8, 1927, one of ten children of the late Isaac S. and Margaret E. Cahill Skillman, in a house on Quimby Lane where the Post Office now stands.  In her lifetime, she lived on the same block only to move around the corner to Claremont Road in 1965 where she resided until 2020.  It has come to be known as “Bessie’s Corner.”

Bessie had a difficult life as a child of the great depression.  Her father passed away when she was 6 years old.  Her mother being unable to care for her and 9 siblings, she and her brothers and sisters were separated by Child Services.  Bessie was sent to live with a Chinese family who ran a laundry on Quimby Lane.  At age 13 she was able to reunite with her mother and younger siblings in an apartment on the same street.

Bessie became a domestic worker employed by several affluent families in the Bernardsville “mountain” community.  She was treated well by most, but as a domestic worker she experienced the same challenges as the women in the movie “The Help.”  She had one new employer leave a $ 5.00 bill on the staircase to see if she would be trustworthy and return it to the owner.  Everytime she polished silverware, she would be required to show the entire place setting to verify that not a spoon or fork was missing.  No matter how difficult her life became she always helped others by putting her family and friends first.

Bessie could be often seen walking through town going to the local bank, Shop-Rite, or the train station for a newspaper.  She never learned to drive a car.

She was predeceased by her loving husband, William H. Pershouse who died April 19, 1997; by a daughter, Margaret Pershouse Nahodyl who died December 31, 1994; and by her nine siblings.

Bessie is survived by her two sons, Thomas F. Pershouse of Branchville and William H. Pershouse, Jr. of West Chester, PA; and by six grandchildren.

A brief graveside service and interment will be held at the Bedminster Reformed Church Cemetery, Route 202 – 206 South, Bedminster on Monday, June 12 at 11:00am.  In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Community Visiting Nurse Association of Somerset Hills, 110 West End Avenue, Somerville, NJ  08876.  Arrangements are by Layton Funeral Home, 475 Main Street, Bedminster.