Bernice “Breezy” Corona is celebrating her 98th birthday today, Feb 6. Celebrating and having fun is nothing new to this Racine woman. While she may be nearing 100 years old, she still finds a way to make the most of life.
Tina Jensen, Breezy’s daughter, explains that her mom got her nickname when she was a teenager. She’d grown up on the south side of Milwaukee. Often, there was a pair of brothers who Breezy would hang around. The brothers couldn’t help but notice that she was always on the go. Therefore, they gave her the nickname Breezy.
As she approaches her upper 90s, that statement still remains true to this day. She’s always on the move and looking for her next adventure.
Coming to Racine
Breezy came to Racine in her early adulthood. Marrying Sebastian Corona brought her just south of Milwaukee. She loved her time in Milwaukee. She was an employee at Allen Bradley. “I worked on the line,” said Breezy. Jensen added, “she was such a hard worker.” However, life changed and she found herself on the go, but this time, to Racine.
After making the move, she had two children, Richard Corona and Tina (Corona) Jensen. While the couple didn’t remain together, she still stayed in Racine to raise her kids. She worked as an employee for Western Publishing for 19 years and Delco Electronics.
Breezy lived on her own at home until she was 90 years old. Her backyard lined up next to the 5th hole of the golf course at Meadowbrook Country Club. She loved the community surrounding her home, however, she took a nasty fall. And while it couldn’t stop her, it did result in her moving into Home Harbor Assisted Living in Racine.
As the family cleaned out their mother’s house, memories unfolded. Thousands of photos from Breezy’s life resurfaced.”She loved taking photos, dressing up for Halloween, and having a good time,” said her daughter.
They didn’t want the fun of life to stop for their mother, but they knew the change would be good. The family never thought that there would be another move in the picture, but in March of 2020, Breezy was on the go again.
COVID Causes a Move
When COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, Jensen gave her mom the choice to continue living at Home Harbor or she could live with Jensen and her husband. Visitors would be restricted at the assisted living center, and she couldn’t imagine not having her support system.
Breezy made the move and now resides with Jensen and her husband at their home. Throughout the past 2 years, the family has made the most of their time together through their mother’s pastime: her love for photography, travel and dressing up has resurfaced.
Throughout the past 98 years, you can only imagine all that one would have done in their days. “She’s been to Poland twice, visited Hawaii, the Bahamas, and even Las Vegas,” said Jensen. “She went to Las Vegas at 90. My brother took her.”
Having Fun at Home
While Breezy isn’t traveling much these days, she enjoys living with her daughter and getting visits from her son. Together they pass the time by taking photos and dressing up. Jensen takes the time to dress her mother up for events or fun things they are doing. Jensen said, “her love for photography rubbed off on me.” Jensen sees an opportunity and thinks, “oh that could be a fun photo shoot.” Her mother goes along with it.
Woman Wears Many Hats
Even if Breezy isn’t all glammed up, you’ll find a fun hat on her head. She loves anything cheetah print or funky. It matches her personality. Breezy loves hats. “She has about 18 of them,” said Jensen.
Jensen shared the photos with her friends, who then began to get in on the action. Debra Baker, one of Jensen’s friends, recently made Breezy a few hats to add to her collection. Her friends love the photos of her mother dressing up. It warms her heart that people love her mother and the photos.
They had been getting their own enjoyment out of the photos and began sharing them with others. Jensen started sharing their joy outside of her close friend group by sharing online with Jensen’s Facebook friends.
They find a way to make the most of living together. If there’s a packer game, Breezy gets out her gear. When it’s Halloween, Breezy dresses up. Even when there isn’t a holiday going on, Jensen and her mother make up fun photoshoots to pass the time. This recently included dressing up for her workouts and a movie night.
This adventure at home keeps Breezy young at heart. Jensen recently took photos of Breezy decked out in USA apparel in honor of the Olympics.
As you’d expect, Breezy will be decked out from head to toe for her birthday. Breezy finds a reason to celebrate each day and enjoys bringing a smile to others. Especially during the tough times of COVID-19, Breezy’s photos mean a lot to people.
“Yeah, I’ve enjoyed my life,” said Breezy. “All of it.”
Age truly doesn’t get her down. She sees every day as a party. In years past and prior to COVID, Breezy would spend her birthday weekend in Illinois at Polkafest. She loves celebrating her Polish heritage. While she won’t be dancing in Chicago this weekend, she will be there in spirit and dancing at home to a one-of-a-kind polka song.
George Staiduhar is an accordion performer. His best-known original song is “Mozart’s Polka,” however, Breezy’s favorite is the one he wrote for her called “Breezy’s Polka.”
She listens to it every morning. You can too on Apple Music, Spotify, or on Amazon music. On her birthday, she plans to listen to it and celebrate. She’s looking forward to having blood soup, a traditional polish soup. It’s a Breezy favorite. You guessed it, Breezy will be decked out in a festive outfit for her birthday. Breezy’s daughter-in-law made her a special shirt.
By hearing her story, Breezy and her family hope that others will find a little Breezy in themselves. They also hope that others will find a reason to celebrate life, even amidst the hard times.
Have a story worth sharing? Email email@example.com to have your story told on the Racine County Eye.