If you want to say hello when you see Andrew Tosdevin out on the golf course but only know him as “Bernie’s husband,” don’t feel bad – he gets that all the time and has gotten used to it. While the transplanted Brit is no shrinking violet, it’s his wife that tends to garner most of the attention initially.
Gregarious and warm, Bernie Tosdevin is also striking – slim, with short strawberry-blond curls and freckles that give her an especially youthful appearance. But Bernie is most memorable when she opens her mouth to sing, an act that has been both a vocation and a passion throughout her life and now is fast becoming her calling card in Cordillera Ranch and around Boerne.
“It’s a joy that I get to do something I enjoy so much,” says Bernie in her lilting Australian accent. It is an overcast, oppressively humid day, and the chanteuse is dressed in a loosely draped casual-chic outfit and sky-high lace-up wedge sandals as she sits by her pool. Thirty yards away, on the other side of the Tosdevins’ wrought-iron fence, a half-dozen deer mill about, paying little attention. “I wasn’t sure if singing would get to be a big part of my life again,” she continues, “and I feel so blessed that things have worked out this way.”
It was on a girls’ night out a couple years ago when Bernie was “discovered” by her neighbors in Cordillera Ranch, where the Tosdevins have lived for going on five years. Singing in her usual exuberant, uninhibited style, she says, Bernie made an impression on her friends and others in the bar, and enthusiastic, word-of-mouth praise followed. Soon she was asked to sing for the Bergheim firefighters’ benefit, followed by Christmas and New Year’s Eve events at the club. Around the same time, Bernie was selected to join the prestigious worship band of the 1910 Church, where the Tosdevins are members. When these gigs fell into place – singing at the club every other weekend and at church once per quarter, Bernie’s settling in was complete.
But while her singing engagements have progressed in a smooth, linear fashion, getting to Texas in the first place – to the United States, even – took a bit longer. In fact, the golfer and the troubadour took the long way ‘round the world before landing in the Hill Country, after originally being drawn to each other by a shared love of music and similar values. Married since 1994 and the parents of two teenage girls, the Tosdevins say they have wound up exactly where they belong.
“There are lots of affluent people here, but there is no pretense,” says Andrew, who’s in medical-equipment marketing and sales. “It’s amazing how many people we’ve met, how many friends we’ve made from all walks of life and all over the world.”
And when they’re out with these friends and cocktail-party talk turns to “How we met” stories, the Tosdevins usually have everyone else beat. It was a little over two decades ago when the Englander met the Melbourne native in a London operating room while both were observing a laproscopic hernia repair. Andrew was in surgical sales with Johnson & Johnson and was pretty at home there in the OR. Bernie, on the other hand, was a former teacher and member of an a cappella comedy troupe on a work visa who came along that day because her roommate, in surgical sales like Andrew, invited her along to watch the procedure. Even cloaked in a gown and mask, Andrew says, Bernie made an impression.
“I could tell right away that she was a fun, bubbly person,” he says, looking adoringly across the kitchen at his wife. “I loved that about her. She’s still the same.” After a few years of dating, the couple married, then honeymooned in Thailand and Vietnam before settling first in London and then, within a few years, Scotland. Five years after their wedding, Andrew was transferred again, and the family moved to New Jersey when their younger daughter was only seven weeks old. From there, it was a mere eight years and 1,800 miles to south Texas; Andrew took a new position in an old friend’s company and moved in late 2007, with Bernie and the girls following a few months later.
It took two years for their house in New Jersey to sell, so they rented houses before moving in to their warm and inviting Cordillera abode in May 2009. It is a beautiful home, but with its party-ready outdoor space, clearly one meant for its inhabitants to enjoy themselves. On the living room walls are hung framed front pages from 1935 Scottish newspapers, and golf memorabilia is hung throughout the house. The home’s comfy, eclectic feel is enhanced by its dark brown leather sofas in the living room and the eclectic accessories from all around the world, some antique, some newer.
When not relaxing at home with a glass of wine from his extensive collection of Bordeaux, Shiraz and Cabernets, Andrew can be found on the links. A champion in the U.K. as a teenager, he says that golf in America offers much more luxurious course conditions than in rainy, windy England and Scotland.
Still, he concedes that even with its spectacular golf course, Cordillera Ranch was kind of a tough sell in the beginning, so used to a faster pace were he and his family.
“It seemed so remote at first,” Andrew says. “But then we started meeting people and realized that it was a very special place. We loved the lot we’re on because of all the privacy and space it gave us. It just felt right.”
Nowadays, although the interesting life that Andrew and Bernie have led means they aren’t in need of new conversation starters, they have another great story in their repertoire: They are newly minted American citizens. Both say that the decision was a no-brainer.
“This is home,” Andrew says, meaning not just their comfortable limestone house but their new country as well. “Our thinking was, we know we’re not ever moving back, so let’s make it official and become U.S. citizens.”
The process was relatively straightforward, though their history of global relocation and travel meant a bit of extra scrutiny, which amounted to filling out paperwork listing everywhere they had traveled in the previous five years. They also had to study a review of 100 questions on the geography, history and government of the United States, then score at least 60 percent on a 10-question test with questions such as “Name the speaker of the house” or “List three mountain ranges in the western United States.” With the successful completion of these hurdles, it was time for the swearing in ceremony. Held in San Antonio – which along with Houston and Dallas are the only Texas cities that hold the rite – the experience was surprisingly moving, say both Tosdevins.
Standing there with new Americans from all over the world, Bernie says she felt a kinship with them and pride in her new country. “What’s not to love about America?” she says. “It has everything you need – mountains, beaches, the best skiing in the world. And the people are warm and welcoming.”
Andrew says that in America, even live soccer coverage is better than in Europe. What else, he muses, could anyone ask for?
Nowadays it would be hard to tell that the family wasn’t always a part of this community, so enmeshed are they in the typical comings and goings of a busy family of four. Daughter Sophie, 16, an ambitious Champion student who is considering graduating from high school early, is described by her mom as a “homebody” who possibly wants to study marketing in college. Younger sister Emma, 14, is a “creative free spirit” who sings and dances and is involved in Boerne community theater. Though born in Scotland, both girls emphatically identify as Texans. With a mischievous terrier and huge, lazy cat rounding out the clan, the Tosdevins are the all-American family.
So what, if anything, do the Tosdevins miss about living abroad? Andrew yearns for good Indian food, ubiquitous in London. For Bernie, it’s the ability to walk everywhere or take public transportation. But, she’s quick to point out, she wouldn’t give up the peace of her 3.5 wooded acres for the hustle and bustle of city life. Andrew agrees.
“When I drive over that hill, my blood pressure drops,” he says of his commute home. “That feeling of spaciousness and what Cordillera brings me is truly special. It just feels good to be home.”