Harrison Celebrates

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Longtime Harrison Flats residents John and Bernice Schuerman will represent the community as the Old Time King and Queen at this year’s Harrison’s Old Time Picnic.

The couple had seven children, 23 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren. But the real story is how the family was almost never started.

They met when Bernice was just 13, and despite her father cutting a tree away from her bedroom window to prevent her from sneaking out to see John, they dated until they eloped three years later.

Now the pair is being recognized for their volunteer efforts in the Harrison community.

The Harrison Old Time Picnic is Sunday, July 29 and is an old-fashioned celebration, complete with a kiddie and main parade and family-friendly old-fashioned games such as children’s foot and sack races, a baby crawling contest, a preschool penny scramble and many other activities.

Each year, the Old Time Committee chooses a couple or person from the community to be the Old Time King and Queen. This year the Schuermans were selected. They have lived on the Harrison Flats since 1958.

Bernice Schuerman was born Oct. 15, 1933 in Deer Park, Wash. to Elmer and Orbie (Laird) Scott. She had three brothers and four sisters. John Schuerman was born July 16, 1927 to Theodore and Mary (Luft) Schuerman. John had five sisters and four brothers. He lived in the Colville area.

John met Bernice when she was 13 years old and he was 18. After he took her home from a dance, he asked if he could see her again. She made him fudge and would sneak out of her window and down a tree to see him. Her father cut the tree down to try to stop her from sneaking out, but she would just sneak through another bedroom. They continued to date until John entered the service after he graduated from high school.

“I think he was waiting for me to grow up.” Bernice said.

He spent 18 months in the Navy during WWII. He wrote her about once a week, and Bernice’s mother enjoyed getting the letter in the mail as much as Bernice and would tease her with it when it came.

John and Bernice wanted to get married after he was discharged from the service; Bernice was 16 and John was 21. The family objected to them getting married, so they lied about her age and eloped to Coeur d’Alene on Nov. 26, 1949. They were married at the Hitching Post. They went to live with Bernice’s sister, Joyce in Colville before getting a place of their own. John worked for his dad and his brother building houses.

They moved a lot as their family grew and taught their children the benefits of hard work. They had seven children; John Schuermen of Jackson, Miss., Bonita Holbeck of Spokane, Cliff Schuerman of Harrison, Mike Schuerman of Lewiston, Sue Goodson (deceased), Mary Beare of Black Lake, and Christie Pfeiffer of Harrison.

They moved to the Harrrison Flats in 1958. They bought three parcels, Hawley, Knapp and Freeman place; 720 acres total that extended from the Harrison Flats to Black Lake. John continued to work as a carpenter but would also clear and plant fields with wheat and oats. Bernice would drive the grain truck to Roselia to sell the grain. They also raised up to 75 cows and 300 head of sheep at times. Branding and sheering was a big job every year. The wool would be hauled to Spokane to sell. Bernice got her GED later in life and then got her CNA license and worked as an in-home care giver for 20 years.

Both John and Bernice have been very active in the Harrison Community. Bernice, along with Ruth Collins, Mary Lou Andersen and Doris Bornitz, began the Garden Club in 1961. Bernice is still a member and meets monthly with the group. Bernice was also a 4-H leader. She taught cooking and baking. She was active in the grange and the PTO. She helped prepare the Old Time Picnic breakfast when they used the Harrison Community Baptist Church to prepare the food. She would transport all the food to the park and empty dishes back to the church. She was always in charge of making the sausage gravy. She was known for her great gravy.

John and Bernice have always enjoyed watching their children and grandchildren participate in sports. They can always be found in the stands cheering them on.

The family farm is a place that John and Bernice hope their children and grandchildren will have a place to hunt, fish or just enjoy nature. Four of their children took them up on their offer of building on part of the land. Sue and Bob Goodson, Mary and Kerry Beare, Cliff Schuerman and Christie and Tony Pfeiffer live on parcels that were given to them by their parents. All three families are very active in the Harrison Community.

Their daughter Sue Goodson, died in Nov. 2015 from cancer.

“It’s a horrible thing to outlive your children.” John said.

Sue was very active in the community. She served in the PTO and the Booster Club, 4-H leader, volunteer fireman and was the in charge of the school food service program.

The couple has 23 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren. One of their youngest great-grandchildren, Harper Beare, daughter of Ty and Sydney Beare, is currently battling cancer. They are very touched by how the community has reached out and supported young Harper.

The coronation ceremony for John and Bernice Schuerman is Friday, July 27 at the Harrison Grange Hall. A potluck dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to bring a main dish, salad or dessert. The coronation will begin at 8 p.m. with a program to follow.

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