Phala Jones Bernhardt, 85, entered eternal rest on Nov. 25, 2017 surrounded by her family after her courageous battle with cancer.
Phala was born in Arcadia, Florida, on July 16, 1932 to Louise Pearce Jones and Dana J. Jones. Phala was a beautiful and gracious Christian wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. While her passing was not the outcome we were all praying for, it was God’s perfect plan fulfilled in a life well lived and most importantly for His Glory. Phala dedicated her life to the deaf communities and worked tirelessly as an interpreter and advocate for the deaf for many years in Florida, Taiwan and Kentucky before her retirement. She felt called to deaf ministry, establishing and serving as Minister for the Deaf at Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, and First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida. While living in Taiwan, she assisted the deaf community in publishing a Chinese sign language book to be utilized in the training of Interpreters for the Deaf in Taiwan. She also was an interpreter for hearing impaired students at Boggy Creek Elementary School in Kissimmee and at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, before she retired.
Phala was a lifetime member of the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID) and National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Over the many years of her commitment to the deaf, she served on several committees and as a board member with the Florida Baptist Convention for the Deaf and the Southern Baptist Convention for the Deaf. She always felt honored to be one of the first interpreter for the deaf to be utilized by the Billy Graham Crusades during the early years of his ministry.
Phala was a lifetime sustainer in the Junior League of Tampa and Orlando. She was inducted into the Distinguished Young Women of America.
She is survived by her children Frona L Elkes of Tampa, Florida, Jeanee E Byrd of Tallahassee, Florida, Revere Bernhardt (Tricia) of Larkspur, Colorado, Danatta Levine (David) of Louisville, Kentucky, Quin Bernhardt (Julie) of Louisville, Kentucky; grandchildren Whitley Byrd of Tallahassee, Florida, Trevor Bernhardt (Lauren) and Ryan Bernhardt of Colorado, Blake Levine (Amy) of Louisville, Kentucky, Austin Levine (Kara) and Harris Levine of Chicago Illinois, Brooke Bernhardt and Rachel Bernhardt of Louisville, Kentucky, Tate Correll (Michael) and Tanner VanWinkle of Colorado; great granddaughter Tenley Levine of Louisville, Kentucky (“She made me great”); brother in Law H. Crill Merryday of Tallahassee, Florida; Niece Glenn Powell (Marvin) of Tallahassee, Florida; nephews Dana John Merryday (Amy) of Oregon and Crill Merryday (Jill) of Tallahassee, Florida; Daughter in Love Sherri Bernhardt; nine step-grandchildren; and many great nieces and great nephews and cousins in Florida.
Phala was preceded in death by her husband of 35 years, Dr. Donald J Bernhardt, DDS, (Colonel USAF ret.).
A funeral was held Nov. 27, 2017, at Middletown Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Phala and her husband, Dr. Donald J Bernhardt, will be interred together in a graveside service which will be held on Dec. 16, 2017, 2 p.m., at Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church, Owens Cemetery in Arcadia, Florida.
In lieu of flowers, Memorial gifts can be made to Deaf Affinity Group/International Mission Board, www.imb.org/deaf.