Bernice Caines Merrill

September 10, 1926 - September 15, 2016
Bernice Caines Merrill

Bernice Caines Merrill, born September 10, 1926 passed away at the Lower Cape Fear Hospice & Life Care Center, Wilmington, NC on September 15, 2016, five days after her 90th birthday celebration party with family and friends.

She was born in Columbus County to the late Samuel K. and Florence Collins Caines.  She was married to the late Powell G. Merrill who died in 2000 after 55 years of marriage.  She was also preceded in death by an infant son, as well as two brothers and five sisters.

Bernice retired from the Buncombe County School System, having served as a teacher’s aide at Leicester Elementary School where she was lovingly known as the “Champion Tooth Puller” of Leicester.  She literally pulled hundreds of teeth beginning with her own children. The word soon spread throughout that when Mrs. Merrill pulled your tooth it did not hurt. Pre-schoolers whose loose tooth would not wait for enrollment would come to school for Mrs. Merrill to work her gentle extraction. One year during Christmas vacation a mother with her child in tow knocked at her door requesting last rites on his wiggly tooth.  BUT no tooth was pulled before its time.  Upon parental request she continued this art into her 80’s.

Bernice was a faithful Christian who never missed kneeling beside her bed each night for a prayer to her Lord.  She was a member of Turkey Creek Baptist Church in Leicester.  After retiring she & Powell relocated from Leicester to the Wilmington area to be near her family.

Bernice is survived by her three children, Judy Robinson (Tommy) of Leicester, Gary M. Merrill of Leland and Larry E. Merrill (Nancy) of Prosperity, SC; brothers Irvin and Samuel Caines and sister Tootsie Register; seven grandchildren, DeWayne Robinson (Renee), Lara Statile (Rick), Ryan (Sara), Morgan, Blake and Cole Merrill and Thomas Curteman (Deidre); seven great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family extends their sincere appreciation to Jen McCloud and team at Champions Assisted Living, The Memory Care Wing in addition to Lower Cape Fear Hospice Life Care Center for their kind and loving care of our Mother.

The funeral service will be held at 2:00 on Saturday, September 17th at Red Hill Pentecostal Church, 1198 Byrdville-Freeman Road, Delco, NC 28436. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 1-2:00.  Following the service, interment will be in the Caines Family Cemetery.  The Reverend Calvin Malpass will officiate.

The family will gather at the home of Sammy and Arrie Caines 4823 Northwest Road, Leland, NC.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Life Care Center by visiting or to the charity of your choice.

Share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Condolence” tab.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403.



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  • September 16, 2016
    Hilda Bennett lit a candle:
    Lit since September 16, 2016 at 9:42:45 PM

  • September 17, 2016
    Sam Caines Hartis says:
    You were a sweet aunt and I am thankful to have been blessed to have you in my life. I have such wonderful memories of you that I will always cherish. You are loved and will be missed Aunt Skeeter. Love , Sandy

  • September 17, 2016
    Jimmie and Shirley Fender says:
    So sorry to hear of your Mom's passing. Sweet lady and I have many wonderful memories of being in the home while growing up. Our deepest sympathy and may "The God of ALL Comfort" be close to all of you at this time.