By JENNIFER MESCHINELLI
---- — STARKE, Fla. — Just one month after retiring from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, a Morrisonville man was struck by a car in Florida and killed.
Bernard “Bernie” Tavernia, 66, of Morrisonville, was hit Saturday evening while attempting to cross U.S. Highway 301 in the Town of Starke. He later died from his injuries at Shands Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla.
Family and friends said Tavernia and his wife, Sandy, had been looking forward to his retirement. They were one day into a four-month visit to Florida when he was killed.
Longtime friend Louise Bezio and her husband, Lyman, had just seen the Tavernias last Sunday at St. Alexander’s Church in Morrisonville, where both families attended weekly. The couple left on Friday to drive to Florida and had been looking for a hotel where they could stay with their dog when the accident occurred, according to Louise Bezio.
Lyman Bezio remembered Tavernia as a nice guy and a die-hard Yankee fan. Louise Bezio recalled his great energy and love for his children and grandchildren. Tavernia also coached basketball at St. Alexander’s Church in Morrisonville.
“He was quite a character — a good character — but still a character,” Louise Bezio said. “He had so many plans of what he was going to do and how he was going to enjoy his retirement.”
The Tavernias have two children, a son, Jimmy, and a daughter, Lynn. Jimmy owns Frechette’s Grocery on Margaret Street, where his father often helped out.
The driver who struck Tavernia, Anthony Woods, 60, of Lake Butler, Fla., was not injured in the accident. According to Florida Highway Patrol, alcohol was not involved and no tickets were issued.