On February 16, 2020, Monnie Pickett-Berks passed away after a long and hard fought battle with cancer.  We were planning several Celebrations of Life in her honor, all in different locations to best accommodate her many friends and family.  However, due to the Covid pandemic, these plans had to be cancelled. 

We truly regret that we were never able to assemble to share our love for this wonderful person.  However, these many photos will remain available so that her many friends as well as her family can view them whenever they want.  For as long as she lives in our hearts, she is still with us.

A letter from from her friend, Nancy, regarding their 50th high school reunion. 

Our friend Monnie Tuz Berks isn't here for our 50th reunion, but she is here with us in so many ways.  Our original 50th reunion was planned for 2020. She passed in Feb. 2020. This wonderful woman was up to date with our Poly Classmates memorial up until her last months. Monnie never gave up on anything. She would have this updated memorial ready for us no matter what, even her cancer. 

Many of us didn't know Monnie Tuz before our 40th reunion in 2010. I can still see her dancing that evening away with her husband, Bill Berks at El Dorado Park. 

I met Monnie at one of our first 40th reunion planning meetings in 2009. This was going to be a 'Big' reunion. We wanted to find people from afar, reach out to classmates we didn't have any information about. Because of the thing called the 'internet', we decided to go full steam ahead to find classmates. We met almost once a month and it was at Rod and Carolyn Carey's home that I first met Monnie.  Monnie volunteered to help and walked in with her husband, Bill.  Monnie shared with me that at the 30th reunion, she was uncomfortable and didn't know many people so decided to help plan the next one to get to know more people. Monnie was full of life, so happy to be involved in the reunion planning. For me, I felt as though I had known her all my life. She was so easy to be with. So positive. So thankful for life. I thought it a bit odd that her husband was involved, but it didn't take long to find out that Bill embraced us as if we were all his best friends. His love for Monnie just shined through that evening.  Monnie and Bill walked into our lives that evening, and none of us ever looked back.

Monnie always had time to talk to a friend. Monnie always had time to cheer someone up.  Even after our 40th reunion in 2010, she became such an important part of many of our lives. 'Girlfriend' just doesn't describe it. Many LB Poly 1970 gals became a huge part of her life. She wanted to get to know classmates, and boy did she ever. 

What I would like people to know is that Monnie was responsible for our 40th Reunion Memorial display that we had at El Dorado Park in 2010 and for our 45th. This was a 10 year project.  Monnie contacted anyone she could find to get information about each and every classmate who had passed away. She did everything possible to find any classmate who passed, then find a friend or relative to give us just a small tribute to them. She did it with dignity, respect, and everyone she spoke to said it was helpful for the grieving process to share their thoughts about their loved one. A job that no one wanted, she did. Strong woman. 

Never did we think that Monnie would herself become part of the next memorial for our 50th.  What a job she did. It takes the most special kind of person to make that kind of dedication, to keep up with the classmates who passed. To make those calls to friends, relatives, Monnie went to great lengths to document even just a bit of their story. She wanted each life acknowledged and celebrated. 

Strong, loving, committed, honest, and beautiful inside and out. That is our Monnie. I want to add that her husband, Bill, was her partner not only as husband and wife, but he joined the Jackrabbit family by helping with the Memorial for Poly Grads, 1970, year after year from 2010 to her death. 

The last thing I want to say is that Monnie lived life, loved life, to the very end. She was an inspiration to us all. She always called us, her girlfriends, to see how WE were. I am honored that she considered me a friend. In her last few years, she lived life to its fullest, loved being with Bill in their new home in Paso Robles and found peace and happiness in everything, every day, no matter how awful she felt. The reunion committee, plus other Poly girlfriends who also got to know Monnie, learned so much from this woman. She made us all better for have knowing her. 

Monnie, born in San Pedro and was a Military Brat. Her family moved as Military families do. They settled in Long Beach and she became a Jackrabbit for her high school years. Her strength and belief in protecting our freedoms, Monnie was involved in the ROTC at Poly. Back in the late 1960's, girls didn't have prominent positions in high school ROTC, but she found her niche for service in this group.

Monnie had two sons from a previous marriage, and two beautiful granddaughters. She worked in the Import Processing/Customs business. 

She met Bill Berks while in a ballroom dancing class. They married in 2007. They danced so beautifully together as we all witnessed at our 2010 reunion. I will always smile when I think about them dancing together. What a gift she gave us by her happy spirit and inspirational attitude about love and life.

Nancy Neal and her many friends