A few months ago, John Verrill, a past ESVHS Executive Director, sent our board a letter in remembrance of Bertie Lee Watson Colona (1920-2015), who took great pride in keeping Ker Place clean. Following is an excerpt of John’s letter, detailing all the Bertie did for both the building and staff:
“For many years Bertie Lee Watson Colona cleaned Ker Place and made it sparkle. Her ability to keep such a large building clean was impressive, she out cleaned and out worked others who were much younger, but it was her understanding of how to work that made it easier for her – she was very methodical and always worked from top to bottom so that the last thing she cleaned was the floor. Oh how she made that house shine!
One of the jobs that I occasionally asked her to do was to polish the silver that was used during public functions at Ker Place. Bertie relished this job and always made the silver shine like it was just made. I don’t remember the brand of silver polish that she liked, but she insisted that only that brand be used and made it very clear to me that I had better have plenty of it even though it cost much more than competing brands. Her ability to make that silvershine lives on in my memory as something very special. I used to sit around the kitchen table at Ker Place and watch as she polished the silver and told me stories of her life in Delaware raising chickens, picking strawberries and other field work, and on the Shore working for the Kellam family.”
Though I did not know Bertie personally, I do understand the pride she must have taken in keeping Ker Place clean. It is, indeed, a big house, and to have the passion and knowledge to keep such a place and its artifacts clean is truely something to admire. So in recognition on what would have been her 95th birthday, Ker Place and the ESVHS staff would like to take a moment to remember and appreciate Bertie and all that she has done for the Historical Society.