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Bernadine Evans Stake, 92, died on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, while on a
small walk in Carle Park, a special place in her life since 1963 when she
and her young family moved to Urbana from eastern Nebraska.
Bernadine was born on a farm near Lindy, Neb., on April 29, 1926.
Bernadine was a graduate of the University of Nebraska, and also received
a master’s and doctorate in education from the University of Illinois.
Bernadine was at heart an educator, starting out as a teacher in a
one-room country schoolhouse, teaching elementary students in San Diego,
and later teaching science education to elementary teachers. Her
dissertation described her research on math problem solving by children.
For the Educational Testing Service, she was principal evaluator of PLATO
computer elementary mathematics education and for the National Science
Foundation she evaluated the National Sex Equity Demonstration Project
based in Broward County, Florida. She served on the Equal Rights Committee
of the American Educational Research Association.
Bernadine served on the Urbana City Council during 1969-1973, 1975-1981
and 1983-1989, and on the Planning Commission from 1995 to 2014. She was
the Democratic Precinct Committee Chair for the 10th Precinct, 4th Ward
for many decades. An active leader in local government, she promoted a
progressive agenda which included passage of a Human Rights Ordinance in
1975, the first in the state and one of the first in the nation to
acknowledge LGBTQ rights. She introduced and shepherded the passage of a
Fair Housing Law for the City of Urbana to thwart redlining and she
introduced a resolution putting Urbana on record opposing the war in
Vietnam to the consternation of more conservative voices. Bernadine also
promoted tenant safety with an ordinance requiring deadbolts on all
exterior doors of apartments. She advocated for protecting the environment
in many ways, including residential collection of recyclable materials,
which passed in 1986. She was appointed to the Urbana Planning Commission
in 1995 and served for almost twenty years as a force to be reckoned with
in support of farms, families, and good government.
By blazing a trail of improvements in local governance, Bernadine inspired
women to pursue political leadership. She campaigned tirelessly for other
women pursuing careers in government. She fought for fairness and justice
for all in every way she could, despite often strident opposition.
Bernadine was not afraid to challenge the status quo. She was way ahead of
Bob and Bernie attended and supported the Unitarian-Universalist church,
starting in Lincoln, Nebraska, then the “Green Street” church in Urbana.
In addition they attended Camp Unistar in Minnesota for many years.
Bernadine served twice as president of the board for the Channing-Murray
foundation, the campus affiliate of the church.
Her foundation however was her family. And that family was a large one;
her kids, her kids’ friends, her husband’s graduate students. All were
welcome. Grandma Beena, an energetic, spirited, and loving woman, was
beloved for her fighting spirit, her optimism, and her caring nature. Her
overt mission when it came to family was to see that there was enough,
enough food, enough beds, enough love, always love, and enough home baked
pie when the need arose, and even when it didn’t. She will be greatly
missed, but her spirit lives on in all who knew her, especially in her
children and grandchildren.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Burt and Ida Haug Evans; her
brother, Bert Merlin Evans; and her sister, Pauline Evans Lemke.
She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Robert Stake; her children,
Jeffrey Stake (Janet), Benjamin Stake (Nitaya ), Sara Stake (Mark
Joselyn), Jacob Stake (Kim Knutson); and grandchildren, Christopher,
Laura, Alison, Walker and Constantine Stake, Ben, Sam and Nellie Joselyn;
great-grandson, Maceo Jean-Pierre; great-granddaughter, Sloane
Craig-Stake; her brother, Kenneth Evans (Marilynn) and her sisters, Enid
Kollars and Claryce Lee Evans.
A memorial service will be held this spring at the Unitarian-Universalist
Church of Urbana Champaign. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy,
please consider a memorial donation to the Channing-Murray Foundation,
Courage Connection of Urbana or the Women’s International League for Peace
and Freedom, or a cause of your choice.