Bernadette Cider, 59, psychologist served schoolchildren in Baltimore

February 04, 1997|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

Bernadette Cider began studying psychology to understand her children a little better.

After earning a master's degree in the field, Mrs. Cider helped a generation of Baltimore schoolchildren understand themselves a little better.

"At first, it was just a way for someone who had stayed home raising kids to have a career," said Edward Cider, her husband. "From there it evolved into something that was both frustrating and satisfying. She knew a lot of these kids had all kinds of emotional and physical problems, and she did what she could to finagle the best service for them."

"Bernie" Cider died Wednesday at her Cockeysville home from complications of kidney cancer. She was 59 and had spent the past four years as school psychologist at the city's Gardenville Elementary and Chinquapin Middle.

The former Bernadette Marie Dziedzina grew up in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, an enclave of Polish Catholics where her father repaired shoes. She attended public schools in Chicago and, in 1958, married Ed Cider, a neighborhood boy she had known since she was 6.

In 1965, the Ciders and their three children moved to Towson, when Mr. Cider took a job as a systems engineer with the old Western Electric Co. Mrs. Cider was a homemaker.

Several years later, with her children older and less dependent on her, she enrolled at Essex Community College.

"We were married two days after she turned 21," said Mr. Cider. "With all the social mores of the 1950s, when you married young with an ethnic background, you became a housewife. There was no handbook that came with it for raising kids. That's really why she wanted to go to school. To help herself understand her own children first."

At age 37, Mrs. Cider graduated summa cum laude from Towson State University in 1975 with a double major in psychology and sociology. In 1978, she earned her master's in psychology from Towson and had an internship with a National Institutes of Health aging program at the old City Hospitals on Eastern Avenue.

Daughter Nancy Connor isn't sure how much going to school helped her mother understand her family, but she said it made a world of difference in how her mother felt about herself.

"She was very frustrated in the traditional world where mothers stayed at home," said Ms. Connor of New Hope, Pa. "Her career mellowed her out quite a lot. It was also her way of giving something back to the community. I learned to do that from her."

Ms. Connor runs Ringing Rocks, a Philadelphia nonprofit corporation that works to introduce alternative healing from other cultures into mainstream Western medicine.

While Mrs. Cider was rebel enough to break out of the role of suburban housewife, she was less open to unorthodox ways of getting well.

"After the cancer, I wanted to help her with some of the things I had found," said Ms. Connor. "But so many doctors had told her so many things about so many possibilities that she was just tired and confused by it all."

Although she was raised Roman Catholic, Mrs. Cider had not practiced that faith for many years and, instead, found spirituality in nature. She especially savored the outdoors in visits to a home Ms. Connor owns in Adelaide, Australia.

Mrs. Cider was a past president of the Baltimore City Association of School Psychologists and a past delegate to the Maryland Association of School Psychologists.

Of his wife's illness, Mr. Cider said: "I'm sure she had it in mind that it was probably fatal, but up until the end, she was still sorting out reference material she wanted other teachers and parents to have. She wasn't quite finished when she died."

A memorial service was held yesterday at Lemmon Funeral Home in Timonium.

Other survivors include another daughter, Leslie K. Pullen of Upperco; a son, David E. Cider of Los Gatos, Calif.; her mother, Irene S. Dziedzina at Stella Maris Hospice in Towson; a brother, Ronald P. Dziedzina of Bartlett, Ill.; a sister, Marion Soldano of Shingle Springs, Calif.; and two grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 8219 Town Center Drive, P.O. Box 43025, Baltimore 21236.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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