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Christina "Bernie" Portelli

February 11, 1928 - August 22, 2014
Livonia, MI



Monday, August 25, 2014
2:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
(734) 525-9020

Rosary 7pm

Driving Directions


Tuesday, August 26, 2014
10:00 AM EDT
St. Priscilla Catholic Church
19120 Purlingbrook
Livonia, MI 48152

in state 9:30am until time of Mass


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Cardwell Florist
(734) 421-3567

Life Story / Obituary


With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Christina “Bernie” Portelli packed as much living as she could into each and every day. She was an independent, spirited woman who wasn’t afraid to do things her own way. A devoted wife and loving mother, Bernie witnessed her family tree blossom to include branches of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who made her so very proud. If she had an opinion about something, one would certainly know it, and she was passionate when it came to the things she believed in. Bernie will be dearly missed and never forgotten.

The decade of the Roaring Twenties was a great time to be an American. Innovation was leading the way, which meant that life as we knew it was being transformed at an alarming rate. Cars were more affordable thanks to the assembly line, and as a result we were able to explore the world around us like never before. Radios brought us our news, entertainment, and sports, baseball became America’s favorite pastime, and the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. It was during this exciting time that a young couple originally from Canada, now living in Detroit, Michigan, was eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over when the baby girl they named Christina Bernadette made her arrival on February 11, 1928. She was one of seven children born to her parents, Bernard and Christine Bowen, and she was raised in the family home in Corktown, located in the Detroit area, alongside her siblings, Jeanette, Bob, Wilson, and Bill. Her brother Jackie passed away at age 4 and another brother, Louie passed away as an infant. Bernie's parents took in her 5 cousins, so all-in-all the family was filled with 3 boys and 7 girls. Bernie used to tell stories of sharing clothes with her sisters and cousins.

Bernie, as she was most often known, experienced an upbringing that was typical for the youth of her generation. Her father worked at the Ford Rouge Plant while her mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home. From an early age Bernie developed a strong sense of responsibility as she helped take care of her siblings, primarily her brother, Bill. She also began working in the workforce at an early age at the Detroit Post Office. In her free time she enjoyed things like ice skating, playing basketball, and watching the Detroit Tigers.

Although she had several male suitors as a teen, life was forever changed for Bernie when she met a young man named Joseph Portelli. According to her brother, Bill, they deemed Joe, who is Maltese, the "Malt". Together they were blessed with the births of five children, Lorna, Karen, Charles, Joseph Jr., and Christine. Bernie also had several dogs through the years including Caruso, Tippy, Rusty, and Bentley, and they were treated like royalty and as though they were additional members of her family.

Throughout her life Bernie was a bustle of activity. Some of her favorite moments were spent at the cottage in Point Pelee, Canada, and also at the house in Lexington, MI. Bernie was a Cub Scout leader for many years, and as a devout Catholic she was also a member of the alter society at St. Thomas Aquinas. Due to her love of her faith she began collecting Angels. Wednesdays usually found her going to "Holy Wednesday" for Bingo with her daughter, Karen. She loved bowling with her oldest daughter, Lorna, and Ray on the Firefighters League. She was a marvel at crochet, crocheting baby blankets for every baby born, including those born in extended families. Of course, her grandchildren received bigger blankets as they grew! If you were a friend, or just an acquaintance, you could almost guarantee receiving a crocheted kitchen towel. When she could Bernie liked going to the casino. She loved to root for her hometown teams as she was an avid fan of both the Tigers and the Red Wings. Although she didn’t travel that often, Bernie did have the time of her life on a cruise, and the trip across country to Denver, Co., for the Firefighter's International Convention, which included her husband and youngest daughter Christine.

All who knew Bernie would agree that she was truly one of a kind. She has been described as sassy, even feisty at times, and although she was willing to listen to others she always had her own opinion and offered her advice. As someone who didn’t shy away from calling it like she saw it, Bernie could be stubborn at times, and when she talked she said exactly what she wanted, when she wanted, and without a filter.

A loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Christina “Bernie” Portelli made the most of the days she was given while holding her loved ones near. She was never one to worry about what others thought. Bernie worked hard through the years and faced whatever came her way head on. She will be deeply missed and forever remembered.

Christina "Bernie" Portelli died August 22, 2014. Beloved wife of the late Joseph. Loving mother of Lorna (the late Ray) Mattson, Karen (Roger) Russelburg, Charles (Rose), Joseph Jr. (Marie), and Christine (John) Cleavenger. Dearest grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 13. Dear sister of Bill Bowen, the late Jeanette Cavazos, Bob Bowen and Wilson Bowen. Visit with Bernie’s family and friends on Monday, 2-9 with a 7 p.m. rosary at our Livonia location; 30200 Five Mile (between Middlebelt and Merriman). Funeral Mass Tuesday 10 a.m. (in state 9:30am) at St. Priscilla Catholic Church 19120 Purlingbrook (north of Seven Mile / west of Middlebelt). Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Sign the guest book, share a memory or upload a photo at: www.TurowskiLifeStory.com