Interview with Bernice Born


WiRED International staff writer Olivia Spirito talked with Bernice Born about volunteering for WiRED. Bernice serves as WiRED’s longtime website editor and applies her eagle eye to polishing the organization’s web stories.



OS: Where did you grow up and attend college?


BB: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. My parents were from Connecticut and moved to the Midwest where my father worked in auto plants. I attended a four-year women’s liberal arts college, Marygrove College, located in Detroit. I graduated in 1957 with a degree in English and journalism. Initially, I thought journalism meant working in a newsroom with men who chain-smoked, drank black coffee, wore green eyeshades and yelled, “Stop the presses!” Then I discovered the endless possibilities in many jobs involving publications.


OS: Tell me about your family.


BB: After college my first job was teaching English to seventh graders at Post Junior High School in Detroit. While teaching, I started a school paper and yearbook. Then in the summer of 1958, I took graduate courses at the University of Michigan in English and yearbook production and met Ed Born! Ed was looking for a partner to play Bridge with, and I faked my way through a game because I thought he was cute. At the end of the game Ed said, “My dear, you are the worst Bridge player I have ever met.” I said, “Thank you.” We shook hands. He said, “Would you like to go out tonight?” I said “Yes!”


We married in 1960; we had three children, two girls and a boy. When the kids were growing up, we had a beautiful Shetland sheepdog. Today, I have five granddaughters whom I call the fabulous five. Four are in college and one is in sixth grade. I even have four grand-dogs: an Australian cattle dog, a part-beagle rescue pup, a Bull Mastiff and an English Mastiff.


OS: What led you to start working with WiRED?


BB: In 1979, when Ed was offered a job at Virginia Tech, we moved to Blacksburg. There were no teaching jobs available, so instead, I found work as a secretary in the Department of Communication Studies at Virginia Tech. This is when I first met [WiRED Director] Gary Selnow. I remember Gary as always friendly, happy and active. Then in 1990, Gary and I went in different directions, as he moved to California and I moved to Pittsburgh for Ed’s new job.


In Pittsburgh, I worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation writing letters describing the possible adventures the children could have and the difference a favorite wish could make in their lives. I kept in touch with Gary, who had gone on to found WiRED. I retired from Make-A-Wish and began helping him in the early 2000s.


I expected that when Ed and I got married, we would do something great to save the world. I think that helping WiRED bring healthcare information to underserved people is a way for me to do that.

OS: What do you do for WiRED?


BB: Today, I read articles that Gary, Allison Kozicharow and others write for WiRED, and edit them as needed before they are published. I expected that when Ed and I got married, we would do something great to save the world. I think that helping WiRED bring healthcare information to underserved people is a way for me to do that.


OS: What activities, interests or hobbies do you have?


BB: I was not initially a person who loved the outdoors, but Ed got me hiking, camping and backpacking. Now I love everything to do with nature! I find mushrooms especially interesting because of their unusual shapes and colors. They seem magical. I also enjoy my little urban backyard that I named the Avery Street Nature Center. My regular visitors include two squirrels, a family of cardinals, a raccoon, a bunny and some tiny under-the-porch mice.



Since beginning WiRED in 1997, I have had the great honor of working with people who have given their time and skills to help advance the mission of this organization. Most of our small operating budget goes directly into programs, and it has never allowed us to hire people with the kinds of professional talents Bernice Born brings to us. She is one of many writers and editors, medical experts, organizers, artists and technology specialists whose volunteer efforts enable this organization to provide health education without charge in developing regions. Bernice is an old friend whom I had come to know at Virginia Tech in the 1980s. Bernice and Ed, her husband, were highly regarded in the university community; they provided me with thoughtful advice on many professional and personal matters. Bernice is not only a remarkable editor, she is a compassionate soul, a wonderful mother and grandmother and a genuinely thoughtful and valued member of our staff. We are genuinely grateful for her continuing input to WiRED’s public information program.
— Gary Selnow, Ph.D.
WiRED Director