Evelyn Beyer

FRYEBURG — Evelyn Beyer died on Jan. 7, 2011. She was born in 1907 in Auburn, N.Y. Her parents, Lynn Ellison and Mabel Gertrude, along with her brother, Fred and sister-in-law Virginia, predeceased her. She is survived by nephews Richard Michael and his wife Barbara, and Roger Lynn and wife Debi, cousins Florence Wuest, Carolyn Stanzel and Dr. Justin Martin and wife Ann, all living in Rochester, N.Y. She attended schools in Rochester, including the University of Rochester and later New York University in New York City. After working as an assistant Librarian at the college library for a year after graduation, she became an apprentice teacher of preschool children at the Mt. Kemble School in Morristown, N.J., which determined her choice of a career. She found teaching preschool children deeply satisfying and enjoyable. This job allowed her time to enroll in courses at Bank Street College of Education, where its leaders, Lucy Sprague Mitchell and Jessie Stanton, inspired her with their enthusiastic inventive ideas about teaching. It was an exciting exposure to progressive education.

Evelyn wrote and published poems and stories for young children, as well as a book for teachers, appropriately titled “Teaching Young Children” which was also published in Great Britain.

In 1937, she was invited to organize and teach in a demonstration nursery school at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., which was used by the college students to observe children, assist in teaching and learn about child development. Evelyn also taught the college students, which she enjoyed.

Following years of teaching at Sarah Lawrence, she became Director of the Preschool Activities, a community project sponsored by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. This was a challenging project, staffed by a team of pediatricians, psychologists, nurses, public health personnel as well as teachers in the public schools, and included the nursery schools, which Evelyn organized and supervised. Dr. Benjamin Spock (who had previously worked with Evelyn at Sarah Lawrence College) also joined the project. It was a rich and exciting experience for all. Unfortunately, the program was discontinued at the end of seven years and the dedicated staff scattered to seek other fields of endeavor.

Evelyn was invited to come to Smith College in Northampton, Mass. to direct the already established demonstration nursery school and to teach college courses in child development.

Following five years at Smith, she was recalled to Sarah Lawrence College to rescue their ailing nursery school and teach courses in the psychology department. She remained there until her retirement. She was honored to learn that a building has been named for her, in recognition of her accomplishment. While still teaching, but on vacation, she visited the President of Sarah Lawrence College, Constance Warren’s family farm in North Waterford and “discovered” the State of Maine. She came upon an abandoned old Cape Cod house on a hillside, under an elm tree, with a spectacular view of the Presidential Range. She purchased the house and had many summers of pleasure in restoring it to its original charm.

Since the little house was not winterized, she found an apartment in Fryeburg to spend the winter months, eagerly returning each summer to enjoy the peace and beauty of that heavenly place which she had named “Beech Hill.” During one of the winter months, it was mysteriously destroyed by fire and all of the contents were lost, but not her memories of its pleasure, which she had shared with many friends.

After the fire, Evelyn became a year round resident of her Fryeburg “nest” and enjoyed the town and found friends and contentment.

In her work with young children, her primary concern had been to help each child become a responsible person, with confidence in himself, respect for others and eagerness to discover the wonders of the world around him in nature, in books, in ideas and in everyday loving, trusting relationships. She loved her work with children and their parents as well as her college students.

She wished to express her appreciation and gratitude to all of the kind and thoughtful people who had enriched her life and helped her in later years. First to Donna Potwin, who has been her faithful and caring helper. To Sally Whitaker, who was her health advisor, as well as sharing lighter moments and occasional “toots” around our lovely countryside, and an army of friends and healthcare givers with their gifts of caring and sharing both time and treats. To her faithful friend and adopted nephew, Kenneth Daniels, who added flavor with his friendship, love, humor and positive charm. It was a good life among dear people.

Having 24-hour care at her home was a costly procedure. It was essential to transfer her to the Fryeburg Health Care Facility, where she received excellent care and remained until her death. She lived a full and useful life, filled with concern for others and gracefully accepting and enjoying their returning affection. At Evie’s request there will be no funeral service. Arrangements are made with Wood Funeral Home, Fryeburg, Maine. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.woodfuneralhome.org

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