January 3, 1963 - January 10, 2013
Berniece “Barny” Pauline Micka Siewert died January 10, in Redmond from complications related to an earlier stroke. She had just marked her 83rd birthday. Barny was born in Malin, OR, on Jan. 3, 1930. The proud parents, Marie Zumpfe Micka and Joseph Micka, were among the original settlers in Malin, a Czechoslovakian farming community. Later, Barny moved to Corvallis with her mother and elder sister, Georgia. She attended high school in Portland at St. Helen's Hall, the oldest Episcopal boarding school west of the Rocky Mountains, later the Oregon Episcopal School. Despite numerous creative attempts to gain the freedom afforded by expulsion, Barny escaped serious disciplinary action and graduated from St. Helen's Hall as expected, much to the delight of her family, who were financial supporters. She continued her education at Oregon State University. From her first marriage to Harry Howard, she had one son, Jeffrey, and one daughter, Susan. Barny worked as a lifeguard on the northern lakes of the Idaho panhandle. After receiving a Bachelors Degree in Education from Portland State University, she worked as an elementary school teacher. She famously quit one educator position by driving her VW bug into the school and emptying her desk drawers into her idling vehicle after a superior's unwanted advances offended her.
Barny's second marriage was to Otto Siewert and was filled with business entertaining, lots of travel, and a shared love of deep-sea salmon fishing. Otto died in 1979, after which Barny sold their Cedar Hills home and moved to a Beaverton condo that she called home for many years.
At a golf tournament mixer in Central Oregon, Barny was fortuitously paired with Joe Comito. Joe was a true soul mate who became her partner and companion, and her enduring comic relief. Barny left her home in Beaverton, to join Joe at Black Butte. They relocated to Eagle Crest in Redmond, among the first to move in. Their partnership was one full of laughter and adventure. After suffering a stroke in 2006, Joe became her strongest champion and supporter, working daily to make her life as full and rewarding as it could have possibly been. All told, their loving union stretched nearly 21 years.
Barny relished her role as family matriarch. Known as “Gammie” to her grandchildren, she stayed with them for extended periods and proclaimed herself “warden” of the household. One birthday, she fed them cake for breakfast. At Christmas time, the grandchildren looked forward to the arrival of her “sleigh” – her car packed with gifts, hand-knit stockings, and of course, never without her “travel bar,” which included a martini shaker and Bombay Sapphire. She exposed her family to life's finer things and to grand adventures while always insisting on good manners and respectful behavior.
Barny was beloved by many – the life of the party who could turn a room full of strangers into fast friends. She was a consummate adventurer and traveler, a woman whose appreciation for indulgence was tempered by Depression-era sensibilities. She was a swimmer, horsewoman, fisherman, golfer, and a fine card player. She will be remembered for quick wit, sharp humor, merry laughter, and a general disregard for rules that prevented her from living life to its fullest. Barny is survived by her life partner, Joe Comito; her daughter, Susan Pesznecker, and son, Jeffrey Howard; grandchildren Katie Pesznecker, Scott Pesznecker and Erin Pesznecker; nieces and grandnieces; and countless individuals whose lives were enriched by experiencing her unique energy and refreshing outlook on the world.
In accordance with Barny's plans, a wine and cheese party will be held in her honor on January 27, at the family home in Redmond. In Barny's memory, donations can be made to the Partners In Care Hospice in Redmond, or to the American Cancer Society.