FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2019
TSAILE, Ariz. — Robert Roanhorse, who is a first-year student at Diné College, was walking to the Charlie Benally Main Library when he heard the news about the passing away of Bernice Chee.
“She was a very good person and very helpful,” Roanhorse, 20, of Chinle, Ariz., said. “She helped not only me, but a lot of students. She will be missed.”
Chee, 59, passed away July 20, 2019. The sister of Diné College Payroll Technician Ruth Nez, Chee started working at Diné College in 2001.
She worked various jobs at the college, among them supplies clerk, bookstore assistant clerk and bookstore clerk. The Chee family asked that the cause of death not be revealed.
“She was a very caring person,” Calandra Chee, the daughter of Bernice, said. Calandra Chee is an IHS worker in Tsaile and a former Diné College student. “She was very loyal and dedicated to her job. She was a very friendly person to speak to about your day.”
Chee was originally from Tsaile, Ariz. Besides Diné College, she was a student at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., and Northern Pioneer College in Holbrook.
Calandra Chee said Bernice grew up in a traditional Navajo household. “She grew up herding sheep for her mother and wove many rugs,” she said. Calandra added, “She took walks and liked to walk. Sometimes, we took walks together.”
Michelle Sandoval, a bookstore clerk who worked with Chee for several years, said she worked with Bernice Chee back when she (Michelle) was a volunteer bookstore worker. She said Bernice Chee will definitely be missed by co-workers, friends and students.
“She always had a smile on her face. She was always helpful with students,” Sandoval said. “Right now, everybody is praying and wishing the family well.”