Beatrice P. Whittington
Camden — Beatrice Palmer was born in Vernon, British Columbia to Leslie (a horticulturist) and Dorothy (a scholar and minister’s daughter), who very soon moved to Fresno, Calif., where Bea grew up with her younger brothers, Jack and Bob.
Even then, she was playful and fun-loving, enjoying summers in Puget Sound with her step-grandmother and aunt. She loved the outdoors, but even more, loved the piano, a parlor grand her father brought home one day when she was eight. She always had her piano with her until she moved to the assisted living facility at Quarry Hill in Camden in 2012. Her piano then went to live with her granddaughter, Jen, and great-granddaughter, Emily.
Bea attended the University of California at Berkley and was proud of being a Kappa Kappa Gamma, which she claimed was her only status symbol. When her brothers went to the university, she was called home to attend Fresno State College due to limited family resources (she was the girl) and completed a bachelor of arts degree with a major in music.
She married Roy Nichols “Nick” Whittington, the son of Gretchen, a violinist and music teacher, and Roy, an electrician. Nick attended Stanford University and was a general contractor. They had three children, Joan, Deborah, and William Bates, and lived in Fresno where Bea taught school. When Nick began to build houses in Las Vegas, which was then booming, the family moved to Boulder City, Nev. in 1954.
In 1960 after divorcing, Bea began to teach school in Boulder City. She then became a music teacher in the Las Vegas schools teaching for 20 years, putting on many choir and orchestra programs, and helping many students with personal problems. Her humorous spirit endeared her to her students and colleagues.
Bea retired in 1980 and became active in the peace movement, joining Catholic nuns in protests against the nuclear test site in Nevada. In 1985, she asked her daughter, Joan to join her for the Mother’s Day protest to “cross the line." Actor Martin Sheen was also among the group. They were arrested, but quickly released without being booked. Bea also accompanied a group who took medical supplies to Cuba and dined with Fidel Castro.
She spent many summers in British Columbia, where her son, Bill, built and exported log houses, and daughter, Debbie, was a sheep rancher and later psychotherapist. Bill built a lot cabin down the hill from his hand-crafted log home. She also spent annual winter months in Patzcuaro, Mexico with friends from the Friends Society, who hosted North Carolina University students doing cultural studies in Mexico. She had many adventures driving herself to B.C. and traveling around Mexico on buses.
In 1990, Bea moved to Boulder, Colo. to be near her daughter, Joan, who one year later accepted a job with Outward Bound in Maine (with Bea’s blessing). Bea made many friends in Boulder, volunteering as a pianist for a Montessori school choir, and participating in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom among other endeavors. She moved to Maine in November 2012.
B-B, as she was known to her grandchildren, will be remembered for her fun-loving spirit, gift of music, and energy for life. In her last year and half at Quarry Hill she was known for playing the lovely piano loaned to her by a friend. She will be greatly missed by her children, Joan Welsh of Rockport, Deborah Larson of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Bill Whittington of Chase, British Columbia, eight grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
A memorial family gathering will be held at a later date.
Condolences may be shared with Bea’s family at longfuneralhomecamden.com. Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain St., Camden.