Sept. 19, 1945 — Oct. 8, 2018
Bernice Golden often told the story of recognizing her psychic powers at age 4 and developing them with the help of an intuitive grandmother. She estimated that in her 48 years as a professional psychic she did some 20,000 readings and made thousands of radio, TV, newspaper and magazine appearances.
But for her husband of 30 years, Douglas Dole, his wife's most outstanding feature was her dedication to helping others.
"Even when she was sick, she would still help people," he said. "You had to have met her to know how wonderful she was."
Ms. Golden suffered a period of ill health and stopped working in June. She battled pneumonia, but appeared to be recovering before she died unexpectedly on Monday in her Lockport home. She was 73.
Ms. Golden drew national attention in 1981, when she handed a United Press International reporter a note that predicted "major difficulties" at an important nuclear power plant. A month later, a tube ruptured in the Ginna nuclear power plant east of Rochester, sending a plume of radioactive steam into the atmosphere.
On Sept. 10, 1980, she predicted an explosion at Eastman Kodak in Rochester. On Dec. 2, a chemical blast at the plant injured several workers.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ms. Golden appeared on TV and radio shows, did newspaper interviews all over the country and worked with police departments, which she said she did for free. She claimed in 1983 that her predictions had a 75 percent to 93 percent accuracy rate, although some of her more specific predictions — that President Reagan would leave office due to health problems or that everyone would be buying electric cars in 1995 — didn't pan out.
She also predicted the Buffalo Bills would win Super Bowl XXVI 32-28 over the Washington Redskins. Her score was off by a few points, and the Bills lost, 37-24.
Ms. Golden was born in North Tonawanda, the oldest child of Norman and Dorothy Tourville Titterington and sister of Norman and Mark Titterington. At age 4, she told The Buffalo News, she had a vision of a fire, with smoke and flames. "I would wake up screaming and my parents were really scared," she said in 1990. "Several days later, there was a fire."
She said that as a child she was "very, very religious," and "never could get along with people." But she was encouraged in her paranormal development by a grandmother who was intuitive, she said.
In 1990, Ms. Golden told The News that she seldom played the lottery, and if she did, she would win only as much as she needed. She said, "My gramma said that if I ever use this gift for total material gain, my gift would be taken away." She said that while she loved to play the slots in Atlantic City, her winnings "usually just wind up paying for the trip."
As a young adult, she lived in Angelica. In 2002, she told The Buffalo News that she had been divorced five times, "And I knew in the beginning. But I am an eternal optimist, and I had to make things work. I always figure I can change everything that happens, but you can't."
She had four children, David Smyers, Doug Smyers, Dale Smyers and DeAnna Golden-Arabaty.
A frequent radio talk show guest, in 1989, Ms. Golden hosted an hourlong call-in show on WBEN radio during the Jon Summers show. In 1990, she was host of a weekly three-hour information and variety show at 9 p.m. Saturday on WWKB-AM. She worked at different times at both stations, her husband said.
In 2005, at the request of defense attorney Steven M. Cohen, Ms. Golden sat in on jury selection in the federal trial of Homeland Security Officer Robert Rhodes III, who was accused of violating the civil rights of a Chinese tourist.
Ms. Golden said she listened to the voices and felt vibrations from the would-be jurors to help her determine whether they would be fair to Rhodes.
"I've used Bernice for jury selection quite a few times over the past 17 years," said Cohen. "She does a great job." The jury found Rhodes not guilty after a few hours of deliberations. Rhodes went on to volunteer to work in Ms. Golden's office.
In several interviews with The Buffalo News, Ms. Golden discussed her death. In 1990, she said, "I'm not fearful; I know when I'm going to die. I know what from. Death doesn't scare me."
Arrangements are incomplete, but Dole said a private viewing will probably be followed by a memorial service.