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UNCP remembers Dr. Mary Guy Beaver

Photo by Nate Howard
Joan Cutcher, sister of the late Dr. Mary Guy Beaver, spoke Oct. 3 at a memorial service held in honor of Dr. Beaver, who died Nov. 16 from the cancer lymphoma. Dr. William Gash, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, listens in the background.

By Hannah Simpson
Around the Town Editor

Students, faculty and staff gathered in the Jones Athletic Center main gym Oct. 3 in remembrance of the late Dr. Mary Guy Beaver.
Dr. Beaver, a professor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department, was eulogized by students, faculty and her family.

Joan Cutcher, Dr. Beaver’s only sister, spoke to more than 60 people about her sister’s accomplishments; at times during her speech, she struggeled to hold back tears.

“I just want to thank you, everyone,” Cutcher said. “She was proud that she was able to help you achieve your aspirations and your dreams,” she added, speaking specifically to the students.

Dr. Beaver, a native of Oglethorpe, Ga., died Sept. 16. She was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer, at the beginning of August and began chemotherapy treatment in mid-August.

Cutcher described her sister as an “outdoor enthusiast,” who cycled across the Southeast as a hobby and once worked as a ranger for the National Park Service at Mammoth Cave, Ky. Dr. Beaver was also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves from 1984-91.

She loved education for herself and her students, Cutcher said.

Few eyes were dry as the audience offered condolences to Cutcher and her son, Cory, 22, who was also in attendance.

Cory, who lives in Jacksonville, Ala., said he was influenced by his aunt to switch his major early in his college career from business to recreation and follow in her footsteps.

Dr. Danny Davis, graduate coordinator, spoke on behalf of the faculty and staff concerning Dr. Beaver’s character.

“She always had time for students, faculty and staff,” Dr. Davis said, echoing other faculty, students and staff as he recounted her positive attitude and love for teaching.

Recreation major Rachel Cadden said of her former adviser, “Dr. Beaver made sure her students were laughing a lot and learning more.”

Cadden spoke a hushed “rest in peace” as she left the podium.

Dr. William Gash, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said Dr. Beaver “always cheered everyone she was around.”

Dr. Gash recalled the last conversation he had with her several days before her death, which he remembered to be light-hearted.

“I wonder if the conversation I had with [Dr. Beaver] would have been different if we knew it would be our last one,” Dr. Gash said.

A portrait of Dr. Beaver was unveiled at the memorial and will be hung in the Graduate Suite in the Chavis University Center.

“Now she’ll be watching us,” said Dr. Tommy Thompson, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

He turned his eyes to the ceiling of the gym before adding, “We’re not going to let you down.”

Dr. Davis said Dr. Beaver had spoken with him concerning her treatment of the cancer several times.

“I still expect on many occasions for her to walk into her office the way she did,” Dr. Davis said. “We are better for having known her.”

“The treatments were going well. We just had no idea the disease was progressing the way that it was,” said Dr. Thompson, in the Sept. 27 issue of The Pine Needle. “It just came as a blow. We just never saw it coming.”

Dr. Beaver directed a Girl Scout camp in Chattanooga, Tenn., and has taught at the high school, community college and university levels.

Dr. Beaver earned her Doctorate of Arts in physical education from Middle Tennessee State University, as well as her undergraduate degree in health and a Master of Science degree in physical education. She also earned a Master’s in education at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.

A memorial scholarship has been created in honor of Dr. Beaver through the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department.

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Updated: Monday, November 5, 2007
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