Bertha Lona Burgess Tennie was born in Warren County, North Carolina on December 22, 1926 to the late Waymouth Burgess and Victoria Burgess. After Victoria’s untimely death, Bertha was lovingly raised by Waymouth and Amelia Burgess. Bertha, along with her late sisters Clara and Magdalene, they enjoyed a childhood filled with God, love, family, friends and church.
Always a star student, Bertha matriculated through the public schools in Warren County, North Carolina. Bertha then graduated from Smith Madden Business College in Richmond, Virginia. She began a long career as an accomplished, dependable, dedicated and talented secretary for the Dean of the School of Religion at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. Bertha shared her secretarial skills at Camden High School and many churches as well. She worked as a Director of Nutrition for the Senior Services Program for Mercer County, NJ. She also worked at Deluxe Checks in Moorestown, NJ. Bertha was a master seamstress, sewing and designing all kinds of clothing, including coats.
Bertha married the late Rev. Dr. Fred D. Tennie, Jr. on December 17, 1961. For over forty years, Bertha served as First Lady at Bethesda Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Virginia, Bethel A. M. E. Church in Coxsackie, New York, Bethel A. M. E. Church in Moorestown, New Jersey, St. James A. M. E. Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mt. Pisgah A. M. E. Church in Princeton, New Jersey, St. John A. M. E. Church in Niagara Falls, New York and Union Chapel A. M. E. Church in Newark, New Jersey. She led and served on many boards and committees, including The Women’s Missionary Society and Pastors Wives.
One of Bertha’s greatest pleasures was spending time with her beloved family, especially at Thanksgiving. She enjoyed and treasured traveling to Atlanta, GA, shopping, music, cooking for family visits and reading. She loved the Lord and attending church. Sunday was her favorite day of the week.
And, of course, we all know that Bertha had a passion for HATS!! She was a beautiful connoisseur of fabulous HATS!! She could wear a HAT like no one else!!
Bertha touched the lives of many people around the country through her work, church and community. In addition to being incredibly beautiful inside and out, Bertha was sweet, always a lady, gentle, kind, soft spoken, respected, loyal, caring, smart, encouraging, trusted and so supportive with a such a quiet spirit.
Then, on Friday, April 6, 2018, surrounded by her loving family, we said our earthly goodbye to our dear mother, Bertha Lona Tennie.
Bertha was preceded in death by her husband, The Reverend Doctor Fred Douglas Tennie, Jr. and her son, Julius Edward Thornton, Jr.
She leaves to cherish her precious memories: three daughters, A. Victoria Ball (Curtis) of Fayetteville, GA, Sonya B. Rose (Eugene) of Woodbridge, VA and Hope B. Tennie of Mt. Laurel, NJ; one son, Frederick D. Tennie, III of Willingboro, NJ; grandchildren, Julius III, Patrick, Eugene, Jasmine, Sasha, Jeremiah, Zamira, Brenda and Brandon; eight great grandchildren; daughter-in-law, Patricia Thornton Pierce (Ellis) of Marlton, NJ; special aunt, Carrie Shelton of Rosedale, NY; also, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, other relatives and many special friends.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8