Mrs. Chipman was a witty and intelligent writer. Bernice Harrel Chipman for many years contributed a weekly column, “What Do You Think?” to The Bakersfield Californian.
The daughter of publisher Alfred Harrell and his wife, Virginia, Chipman was born in Bakersfield in 1887. Following her marriage in 1911 she made her home in San Francisco, where she was a civic leader, but retained strong ties with her hometown and took an active interest in the newspaper until her death in 1967. As president of the corporation, she furnished leadership and vision, editorially.
Mrs. Chipman attended Bryan School, one of Bakersfield’s first elementary schools. She attended Kern County Union High School, graduating with the class of 1905. She was enrolled at Miss Murison’s School for girls in San Francisco when the 1906 earthquake interrupted her schooling.
“She certainly was a woman ahead of her time,” said Lawrence Weill, one of Chipman’s contemporaries. “In those days, women did not participate as they do now, but she always did.”
Chipman served on the boards of all the major arts groups in San Francisco and was president of such civic organizations as the Family Welfare Agency and the League of Women Voters. Earl Warren, then the governor of California, appointed her to a two-year term on the state Welfare Board.
She was instrumental in the creation of a replica of the Havilah Courier office at Pioneer Village and in 1966 was named honorary chairman of the Kern County Centennial celebration. “Bernice was sophisticated with a sense of what was right at the right time,” said her friend Marie Clerou Barnett. She was sort of New Yorkish, sort of Paris, and sort of Havilah.”