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William Nelson Beverly

William N. Beverly III passed away Friday, May 22, 2020, in Kalamazoo. Bill was born in Fort Worth, Texas on July 29, 1942, son of William N. Beverly Jr. and Jane-Anne Vaupel Beverly. He is survived by wife Martha Staples Beverly of Kalamazoo; one sister, Lisa Beverly Fitzpatrick of Watervliet, Michigan; two sons, Bill Beverly of Hyattsville, Maryland, and Tom Beverly of Ypsilanti, Michigan; daughter-in-law Deborah Ager and granddaughter Olive Beverly of Hyattsville, Maryland; nephew John Fitzpatrick of Oakland, California, and niece Katy Fitzpatrick of London, England. He grew up in Fort Worth and Waco and in Watervliet, where his family moved to assume ownership of the Beverly Lumber Company after William Beverly Sr.’s death in 1953. He attended Watervliet High School, where he sang in the Troubadours and lettered in football, baseball, and basketball, graduating in 1960. He matriculated at Kalamazoo College, during which he studied in Muenster, West Germany. He was a proud Sherwood, Sigma Rho Sigma. After graduating in 1964, he earned a master’s degree in audiovisual media, mostly photography, under mentor Dave Curl. He met Martha Staples at Kalamazoo College. They married in 1965 and celebrated their 55th anniversary in March. Bill taught in the Kalamazoo Public Schools for 37 years – primarily German, but also English, Spanish, introduction to languages, social studies, history, photography – at South Junior High School from 1965 to 1985 and Kalamazoo Central High School until he retired in 2002. He was much loved by students and colleagues, and his teaching and mentoring was lifelong: recently he’d returned to teaching German to Osher Lifelong Learning (OLLI) students in Kalamazoo. He enjoyed spending time with his granddaughter Olive, teaching her to take pictures, photographing her soccer matches, playing board and word games, and showing her around the Gilmore Car Museum. Bill was known for his amiability, his understated humor, and the rigor and curiosity with which he threw himself into a wide range of hobbies and interests. He read widely on European and Civil War history, languages and etymology. He and Martha were regulars at theatre events in Kalamazoo and Stratford, Ontario; they also enjoyed live music, especially the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Fontana, and Kalamazoo Symphony. He kept multiple cameras and a darkroom, then transitioned to digital photography and restoration. As his sons played soccer in AYSO and for Kalamazoo Central, he coached and refereed. He kept a large garden and studied and cooked recipes from around the world. His skills making pizza, learned from early years moonlighting at Pizza King, and pies, learned from his mother, were unrivaled. He roasted his own coffee, enjoyed local beer, and reconditioned antique cast iron and gave it away to family and friends. He began learning Morse code amateur radio in the 1980s and by the 1990s had raised a 64-foot antenna rig above the family garage on Pinehurst Boulevard so he could talk to ham radio operators around the world. And he followed his mother’s White Sox and his father’s Bears until the end. He and his family traveled North America, from birdwatching at Point Pelee, Ontario to the Maritime provinces, the Pacific Coast, the high Southwest and the deep South. With Martha, he voyaged abroad with Road Scholar programs to Italy, Germany, Austria, China, Cuba, Spain, France, and more. And he was a marvelous storyteller. He loved the spectrum of American folk music. Since 1997 he and Martha sang and hosted Sacred Harp shape note music singings, traveling throughout the USA and to points abroad. He was known for leading “Granville” and “Poland,” especially the second verse, and for the rhubarb pies he brought to singings all over the Midwest. His life was full and his friends were many. When it came time for him to go, he declared that he was ready. When it is safe to gather once more, we will call his friends and family together to celebrate his life and reconnect his many communities. Hold him in your heart and stay in touch. “Carry on,” as he would say. While visiting William's webpage at www.avinkcremation.com please sign the guestbook by lighting a candle, and/or sharing a memory with the family. The family is being assisted by the Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 129 S. Grand Schoolcraft, MI 49087 (269-679-5622).

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The following is a link to a shape note tune https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJAIbKyOyAc It would not be too much to say that I wouldn't be a Shape Note singer if it weren't for Bill Beverly and Martha Beverly. Bill and Martha have hosted a monthly singing in Kalamazoo since what seems like forever, and it is their home, the hollow square formed on their deck or basement where I learned to sing. One of Bill's favorite tunes was Poland (86) and it's Poland that I led at the first Kalamazoo annual singing I attended. Bill's autograph is next to 86 in my book. This video shows Bill at his best -- charming, always learning, always honoring the tradition he learned from others and the people from whom he learned it, always trying to get a class to do a little bit more than just sing the next song, attempting and achieving excellence. We're singing Bear Creek (269), which Bill would normally lead at a fast clip, but here's he's asking Syble to help him to sing at a slower, four-beat pace. This was recorded at the 2013 Kalamazoo singing (thanks to Bob Borcherding). The singing wouldn't have taken place with Bill and Martha spearheading it and doing most of the work. On the dessert table there were several of his rhubarb pies (unless this video was taken after lunch, which would mean there was none left). Bill was a man of parts. I loved how deeply concerned he was about the state of the world, his excellent cookery, his coffee connoisseurship (he roasted his own, and made such good coffee), his love of good language and its origins, and, of course, his love of shape note singing and its traditions. I was hoping that, when I retire, we'd be able to spend more time together. I deeply lament that is not going to happen. I deeply lament that his cardiovascular illness prevented him from much activity for too long, and that the pandemic has meant I haven't seen him in months. One of the things I learned from Bill is to insist on singing the second verse of Poland. I miss you, my friend, my father. Im but a sojourner below, As all my fathers were; May I be well prepared to go When I the summons hear.

Will Fitzgerald Jun 6 2020 7:47 PM

A good friend and high school classmate, my heartfelt condolences. Michael Lester

Michael Lester Jun 4 2020 10:54 AM


Amy O'Brien Jun 1 2020 9:57 AM

The Flamingo Saga, Part 1 of 3 In reality, one of the great prank chains of the Midwest started because of the tornado which ripped across Pinehurst Boulevard, taking houses, roofs, and most of the trees that had formed arches over the street. We didnt even live there then, but we could still feel its effects when we moved in a couple of years later. The sweet woman across the street, Grace, would walk to the end of her driveway almost daily to sigh and say Pitiful, just pitiful as she stared as she stared at the stump of her once mighty tree. Grace and I would take walks together through the neighborhood where she would tell me what it had once looked like, and also to remark fairly unkindly about lawn ornaments, like the almost but never quite kissing Dutch children and womens plywood big butts bent over gardens. It was time for me to do something about her distress. Grace and her husband, Don, were going on vacationa perfect time for us to brighten their lives. I bought two Pepto Bismal pink flamingos and planted them in their stump. Two negatives make a positive, right? It didnt appear to work that way: when they got home, the word pitiful was at triple volume, though it was accompanied by chuckling. The next morning, the flamingos were on our lawn. Now I had two flamingos who still needed a forever home. At the house next to Don and Grace, Bill and Martha were busy creating an ivy mound. I knew what it really was: a flamingo nest. When Bill and Martha went on vacation, the flamingos moved into the nest to guard their property. Unfortunately, it was not to be the pairs forever home. Once again, in the dead of night, the flamingos returned to roost in our front lawn. The man next door, who was not known for his sense of humor, growled at me. We are going on vacation, and when we come home, I dont want to see those lousy flamingos in our yard. He forgot that we had a spare key to their house. When they came home, the flamingos were nestled comfortably in their waterbed. I didnt get the birds back this time. Finally, in August it was our turn to go on vacation. We didnt think even once about the big pink birds . . . until we opened our garage door to find them hanging lynched in our garage. It was my turn to say Pitiful. Just pitiful. The flamingo-ing pretty much stopped at that point. Dead is dead after all. While we were gone, a tree service came and mulched the stump in Don and Graces yard. It looked better but was not enough for Grace, who continued exclaiming, now over the pile of mulch. They went away again, and we found a dead branch complete with a full set of dead leaves, just the size of a sapling. We planted it in the mulch, complete with guy wires just like the nursery would use. It looked splendid. The next morning, we saw Bill with his garden hose watering the new tree in his neighbors yard. My ex-husband Thom went over to tell him the joke. Its dead, said Thom. I know, Bill replied, and what fool would plant this tree while they were away? No, Bill, its really dead. Bill responded with more water and mutterings about an inept nursery. Finally, Thom got through to him that it was not a real sapling. This time we pulled our lawn chairs out front to watch for Don and Grace to come home. They didnt seem to appreciate their replacement tree, and Grace had expressed her normal sentiment before she looked up and saw us there. Both families gathered around the tree for a photo.

Sherry Ransford-Ramsdell May 30 2020 10:16 AM

The Flamingo Saga, Part 2 of 3 Things settled down after that. Sure, there was the time Don and Grace included Ben, then two, in their family Christmas card photo and the pointless comic strips we sneaked onto their refrigerator door to go with the pointed ones Don and Grace had put there. Don thought Grace put them up and Grace thought Don did, so this went on for a good long time. Mister Rogers had stopped singing Wont you be my neighbor to us. It was no wonder that Ben preferred G.I. Joe. Years passed. I began teaching English at Kalamazoo Central where Bill taught German and Social Studies. We gave each other rides to and from school as needed, talked in the hall and at lunch and meetings, but I was left totally unprepared for revenge which is indeed a dish best served cold. Open House was that evening and I tidied and prepared my room, then went home to change into better clothes. The power went out as I was getting dressed in my little black go-anywhere dress. That caused me to mistake navy hose for black, which I didnt notice till I got to the hall in front of my classroom. When I opened the door, I found I had much more to worry about. Flamingos were everywhere. A three-foot tall one was in the middle of the room, flamingo beanie babies were riding my cement armadillo. Pictures of flamingos hung everywhere from the ceiling and were taped to the desks. My vocabulary list on the board had one word erased so that flamingo: big pink bird could be put in its place. Flamingos graced every bulletin board. There was not time to do a blessed thing but stand there and laugh. When the first set of parents came in, I tried to explain that I had been flamingoed, but they really didnt get it. Or me. I turned on the overheadthere was a flamingo now shining on the board. I pulled down the screen. Of course, another flamingo smiled back at me. At least with all of this, I dont think anyone noticed my navy pantyhose.

Sherry Ransford-Ramsdell May 30 2020 10:15 AM

The Flamingo Saga, Part 3 of 3 I found more flamingos for years. I found what might have been the last as I cleaned out my room to retire. They were in files, in dictionaries under the letter F, in textbooks in the story The Scarlet Ibis. Bills German class had spent days coloring flamingos and plotting. When they saw I had left the building, they went to work. I really was quite taken with their skill and brought the whole class cookies frosted with bright pink flamingos. One might think this would end the story, but one would be wrong. My AP class decided that we should do something in return. I quickly rejected their ideas like filling Bills room with water or even balled up newspaper. It has to be clever and not hurt anyone or anything. Soon, it was settled. When Bills class came to his house for Christmas dinner, we would carol them and then barge in and decorate. During discussions, students were allowed to make paper chains, and when they came to my house the night of the attack caroling, they were to bring the most awful decoration they could findone their parents should have thrown out long ago, no sentimental value, just awfulness. I had let Martha know what was going on, and she gave it a dubious blessing when I promised that nothing would be hurt and clean-up was going to be easy. The students arrived at my house with the garbage bags of paper chains and some decorations I really didnt expect. The most unexpected was a toilet. We just moved, so everything had been cleaned out, but we did have this, the student told me. We decided it would go in front of the house and itself be decorated. At the appointed time, we crossed the street, singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas. When Bill, smiling, opened the door, we barged past him and began the decorating. A jawless nutcracker soldier went on the table, other similar ornaments were placed, paper chains were hung, and Bill himself soon sported a dog-chewed Santa hat and Marleys worth of chains, and he was given a dead poinsettia to hold. It took only minutes and we were back out the door. In the middle of the night, I heard everything land on my front lawn, and then it disappeared. I found the toilet hiding in Bills bushes and brought it to my garage. I feared he had evil plans for it. I had some of my own. Christmas was rolling in fast, and every year we decorated the boulevard with luminaria on Christmas Eve. This year was no different except for one thing. We took the toilet to Bill and Marthas front yard and turned it into a lovely nativity scene of luminaria. The angel sat on the tank, Joseph and Mary on the rim, and baby Jesus in the bowl. It provided a lovely glow. Neither Bill nor Martha looked out their front windows that night, so they didnt see our effort on their behalf. All the people who drove down the street most certainly did. I knew my kindness had been appreciated when it was still glowing at 11 oclock. Again, that might have been the end of the tale, but every year my students had to hear the whole story of the flamingos (probably to get out of deciphering Shakespeare), and any time I went to a conference, I came back to find my room once again outfitted with a variety of flamingos, pink streamers, and other nonsense. My lawn and house also became student creations in flamingo art. Why do you like flamingos so much? I was often asked. I dont, I always replied. That did not stop people from buying me giftsornaments, earrings, socks, a mug, and moreall flamingos. Bill indeed had the last laugh. Flamingos in the wild live for twenty to thirty years. Our Flamingo Wars lasted well over twenty. It was a good run.

Sherry Ransford-Ramsdell May 30 2020 10:13 AM

3 files added to the album Memories Album

Martha Beverly May 29 2020 8:53 PM

7 files added to the album Memories Album

Martha Beverly May 29 2020 3:24 PM

1 file added to the album Memories Album

Martha Beverly May 29 2020 3:21 PM

2 files added to the album Memories Album

Martha Beverly May 28 2020 1:08 AM

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