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Mignon Upchurch Beranek


1948 - 2019
Mignon Upchurch Beranek Obituary
Mignon Upchurch Beranek

Tallahassee - On Friday, November 29, 2019 Mignon Upchurch "Dee" Beranek died peacefully surrounded by her family following a brief illness. Dee, born in Walnut Creek, California on November 29, 1948, was the eldest daughter of The Honorable Frank D. Upchurch, Jr. and Mignon T. "Tis" Upchurch. Early in her life, the family moved from California to Florida and, eventually, to St. Augustine, where Dee was raised.

Dee received her Bachelor's degree from Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University and spent several years working with youth as the principal of a special education center in Savannah, Georgia. In 1983 she graduated from Mercer Law School and moved to Tallahassee, Florida where she began an entirely new career.

From 1983 to 2002, Dee worked at the Supreme Court of Florida, first directing judicial education and then serving in the dual role of deputy state courts administrator and general counsel for the Florida State Courts System. She was a visionary leader, especially in the advancement of adult professional development and learning and was the principal architect of modern judicial branch education in Florida. Under Dee's leadership, Florida's judicial education program was recognized as one of the best in the nation and served as a model for other state courts.

Dee was known for her expertise in adult education, needs assessment, evaluation, and curriculum development. She served as a consultant and as faculty to both national and international judicial education programs. She was a member of the National Judicial College's Board of Trustees and served several terms as the Southeastern Regional Director of the National Association of State Judicial Educators. She also served the larger legal community as a member of The Florida Bar Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, the Florida Supreme Court Gender Bias Study Implementation Commission, the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Fairness, and the Second Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

In retirement, her passion for education, fairness, and reform took the shape of tutoring and mentoring youth and working with 10,000 Villages, the League of Women Voters, and other local organizations, as well as the study of her faith. She continued to tend the friendships from all seasons of her life and delighted in time with her family. She was constantly reimagining her gardens in Tallahassee and in Highlands, North Carolina and always ready for a new adventure. Dee's family and friends cherish their memories of her as a spirited conversation partner, a curious and reflective learner, a welcoming host, and a devoted, loving presence in their lives.

Dee is survived by her husband of 28 years, John R. Beranek, and her daughter, Mignon L. "Sarah" Brockenbrough, and husband, William, of Roseland, Virginia. She is also survived by her brother, Frank D. Upchurch III, of St. Augustine, Florida; her sister, Robin Upchurch Allen, and husband, Stephen, of Savannah, Georgia; and her brother, Kramer T. Upchurch, and wife, Sandra, of St. Augustine, Florida, along with six nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will take place at St. John's Episcopal Church at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, December 7, 2019. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dee's memory may be made to Episcopal Relief and Development, League of Women Voters, or the International Rescue Committee.

Breanna Green of Bevis Funeral Home is assisting the family with their arrangements. (850-385-2193 or www.bevisfh.com)
Published in Tallahassee Democrat from Dec. 2 to Dec. 3, 2019
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