Bernadine Baluh Toland, 88
February 8, 1932 - August 26, 2020
Bernadine “Bernie” Baluh Toland, 88, departed for eternity in the presence of God on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, from Newport Meadows Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, Christiana, PA. Born at home in Brier Hill, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Bernie was the youngest daughter of the late George P. and Mary M. (Vitikacs) Baluh and preceded in death by oldest sister Eleanor (age 4). After graduating from St. John Catholic High School of Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1950, Bernie moved to Washington, D.C. She lived and worked in diverse administrative support roles in and around the Washington Metropolitan Area during the 1950s and 60s, alternating with extended periods of residence and employment in Uniontown PA and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 1966, Bernie married John S. Toland of Washington, D.C. They later welcomed a daughter, Kelly Ann, while living in Bethesda, Maryland. The family eventually relocated to Lewes, Delaware, where Bernie worked for a time as a case manager for Sussex County Probation and Parole. During this season, she had what she would always describe as “a life-changing encounter with Jesus”, who was the center of her life from then on. For the rest of her life, Bernie would share her faith and words of encouragement as well as prayer with those who crossed her path and seemed to be in need. Following a brief residence in Eagan, Minnesota, the family again relocated, this time to Western New York. After living in East Aurora and Orchard Park for several years and attending Full Gospel Tabernacle, Bernie moved to Montgomery County, Maryland with Kelly in 1981, where they attended Halpine Church. In 1989, following Kelly’s marriage in Chile to Mr. Hugo Avila of Argentina, Bernie returned to Sussex County, Delaware and her beloved beaches.
Dagsboro Community Church was an important part of her life during that season. She continued to take watercolor classes and served as a hospice volunteer for a time. After Kelly and Hugo relocated with their children to Pennsylvania in 2005, Bernie found a home in 2007 at the Carriage House of Hill Farm Estate, Annville PA, where she lived until moving in with Kelly and family in 2016. While living in Annville, she enjoyed taking watercolor classes in Mount Gretna and in Lebanon, and participation with Freedom in Christ Fellowship Church and Fairland BIC church at different times. After moving to Leola with Kelly and family, Bernie enjoyed participating at Stumptown Mennonite Church, where she was also blessed by the warm caring of a group of women who facilitated her transportation to the Eden West Adult Day Services program at Landis Homes.
Bernie loved being at the beach, as well as dancing, painting, and other creative expressions. In later years, she especially enjoyed her dog, Gigi, and a good game of gin rummy. She was a faithful friend, a gracious hostess, a devoted mother, and was known for having a mind of her own. A long, slow battle with Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes took its toll, but even so, Bernie overcame the initial impact of COVID-19 in April of this year. During the last week of her life, Bernie was surrounded by love, prayer, worshipful music and readings from the Bible as she prepared to leave this world. Bernie is survived by her daughter, Kelly Ann Toland (husband Hugo Avila), her grandchildren Emily (husband Wilfredo Riquelme) Avila and Daniel (Regina née Witmeyer) Avila, great-grandchildren Benjamin, Sophia, and Emma along with a fourth great-grandchild due in September, as well as her sister Mary Ann (Baluh) Sajsa and Marie Sajsa of Kenmore, NY. Interment will be with her parents in St. Mary Nativity Cemetery, Uniontown, PA.
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Condolences to the Family
September 03, 2020
Kelly, Your written thoughts of your mom and her life are beautiful. You are a loving and faithful daughter. Your mother was a good friend and I regret that my attempts to visit in Pennsylvania did not happen. It is wonderful to hear that her passing to everlasting life was filled with peace and worship. I know that being with both my parents at the time of their passing was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I see her in my mind’s eye freely dancing and singing unabashedly in the presence of her Lord and Savior and best friend. Much love to you and your precious family. Robin and Art
September 02, 2020
We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. What a beautiful life story you wrote about her! May God’s peace temper the pain of her absence. Blessings and hugs from our family to yours.
love, Brian and Laura Whitaker