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Bernice Repka Bedwell

My Sister-My Mentor

Bernice Repka Bedwell, my sister and mentor

Bernice Francis Repka Bedwell was my sister, friend, confidant, and mentor. Bernice was a lot older than me, and I believe, because of this, she had protectiveness towards me all her life. She was a very gifted person with many creative skills. A songwriter, poet, artist, singer, and excelled as an idealist. A tremendous amount of her ideas that she had submitted to established companies were turned down because they said they were not feasible. Yet years later they were being marketed.

Bernice began singing at a young age while in school, and it carved over to writing music in later years. In the mid fifties, she began taking a modeling course at the Patricia Stevens Modeling School, and within a few months she became a counselor. She met a man through the school who knew she wrote music and introduced her to the man that became her managing agent. To make a very long story short, Bernice naively got into a contractual agreement with this man who took all her earnings and royalties, both from publishing her music, and her writing royalties. All she received was the credit and notoriety. One of Bernice’s songs was entitled “Lotta Lovin” and was played for Gene Vincent over the phone. This came about in late ’56. Bernice met Gene in early 1957 and became good friends with him. Not only did Gene record “Lotta Lovin” but went on to record a couple of other pieces she had written. One was called “Lonesome Boy;” the other, which I thought was an all time classic, and my favorite was “In My Dreams.” Just before Bernice passed away in 2003, this song came out in a movie called the “Singing Detective” starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Mel Gibson. Not only did they play Gene’s original version, but Robert Downey, Jr. covered the song with his own arrangement.

Even though Bernice was not receiving any royalties, at the time she was excited and pleased about her song being released. Not until after her death did her estate began to receive her royalties as the writer. This was way past due. I know that she loved her family very much and I knew she had a spiritual bond, but I also know that happiness and fulfillment escaped her always. She wrote a million seller song and someone else reaped the harvest of her labor. Bernice became very depressed at that time and I don’t think she ever fully recovered. As I became older, we collaborated on music and ideas, and worked intensely to promote them, and many times came so very close. However, she never lost her faith and belief in her ability. This was just another lesson I learned from my sister, “Never give up, and never be a quitter.” If I could choose any one in this world to have been my sister, it would be Bernice.