Francine von Bernewitz

Obituary of Francine von Bernewitz

Francine von Bernewitz passed away peacefully at her home on June 4, 2022 at the age of 101.


She lived in the Lyon Village community of Arlington Virginia from the time she was 16 years old and attended Washington – Lee High School. She played clarinet and saxophone in the Washington-Lee HS Band.

  Francine was a talented musician playing many instruments such as guitar, mandolin, domra, clarinet and piano to name a few.  Francine was passionate about teaching musical instruments such as piano, guitar, and accordion to others in the community and had a private music studio in her home where she and her husband taught numerous students from youth to adults over the decades. Much of the time forming lasting friendships through her music.  She passed on her musical knowledge readily to anyone interested in learning about music. Everyone who met Francine loved her. Her gift of music is her timeless legacy

   Francine met Herman, her husband, while substituting for another guitarist in Herman’s group.   Soon this turned into a deep love for each other, which resulted in their lasting marriage.    Francine was the heart and soul of the Takoma Mandoleers, the mandolin group her husband Herman von Bernewitz formed in 1923 and is still in existence today.   They were a true team when it came to the Takoma Mandoleers.   She was the backbone of the group and would always lead the guitar section as well as guide Herman in the process of picking out the concert music.   Many times, she would arrange music for the group and always worked behind the scenes which resulted in wonderful performances.  These performances were held at such venues as Smithsonian Museum, the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, the Kennedy Center, local parks and even resulted in an exchange concert with a mandolin orchestra in France. 

Francine also was a longtime member of All Frets(formally known as FIGA) having first joined in 1970 along with her husband Herman von Bernewitz.   They attended and performed at the yearly conventions as well as hosting a convention or two.

Additionally Francine was a member of the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA), playing guitar with the group.   She also was an original member of the Washington Balalaika Society (WBS), which formed in 1988.   Francine played whichever instrument she was most needed on for the group.   She started out playing accordion with the group, then switched to playing gusli and then finally playing domra.

In her earlier years, Francine was an active member of Clarendon United Methodist Chuch in Arlington, Virginia and then became an active member at Arlington Temple United Methodist Church in Rosslyn, Virginia in her later years.  She is survived by her four daughters, Elaine Gladwin, Carla von Bernewitz, Karen von Bernewitz and Heidi von Bernewitz as well as six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.


A memorial service will be held Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at Columbia Gardens Cemetery-3411 Arlintgon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201.   The service will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the house on the cemetery property-3411 Arlington Blvd, followed by a gravesite burial at 2:00 p.m. 

A reception at the cemetery house will immediately follow the gravesite burial.  Francine loved a party filled with playing music together.   Bring your instrument/music stand to join in and jam together during the reception to honor and remember Francine von Bernewitz.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Francine
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Direct Cremation Svcs of VA - Chantilly
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