LaVaughn Beard

[ Age 86 ] She earned a degree after her children were in school and spent 13 years as a city library media specialist

December 13, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

LaVaughn C. Beard, who pursued a college degree while raising four children and became a Baltimore public school library media specialist, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Saturday at a daughter's Pikesville home. She was 86.

Born and raised in Chicago, the former LaVaughn C. Hansen met her husband, Clarence E. Beard, at a Christmas party, and married him in 1941. During World War II, she worked in Hyattsville as a Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. operator, and later for companies in Hartford, Conn.

In 1949, the couple moved to Pikesville when Mr. Beard joined the faculty of Milford Mill High School as a music teacher, and eventually became vocal music chairman.

When the youngest of the couple's four children entered first grade in 1960, Mrs. Beard sought to fulfill a lifelong ambition of earning a college degree by enrolling at what is now Towson University.

"It took her 11 years to get a degree in education, but she finally got it," said a daughter, Christine A. Beard of Pikesville, who is the librarian at Ridgely Middle School in Timonium.

During her 13-year career, Mrs. Beard was a library media specialist at Carver Vocational-Technical High School, and Hamilton, Leith Walk and Govans elementary schools.

"We first met at the elevator when we were students together at Towson and she graduated half a semester ahead of me," said now-retired educator Rosa Lee Hennigan, who worked with her friend at Carver. "She was a cheerful and friendly person who was loved by the students. She taught them how to use the library and find books and other research materials. During holidays, she always decorated the library to make it more attractive for the students and faculty."

"She loved working with children and shared her artistic talents and enthusiasm with them," her daughter said. "The children always loved her storytelling and always asked for more."

Mrs. Beard created a popular lecture series in the schools where she worked and brought guest speakers to her library media center to speak about their careers and lives.

A music lover, Mrs. Beard was an accomplished harmonica player and yodeler.

"When we were kids, she called us home by yodeling. You could hear her all over the neighborhood, and if we were in a store and got separated, she'd find us by yodeling," the daughter said.

"We were visiting Bryce Canyon National Park and some of our family were riding the donkeys to the bottom of the canyon. She was driving the car along the rim and pulled over into an overlook and started yodeling. Everyone heard her," she said.

Mrs. Beard was a longtime member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Baltimore, where she sang with the choir. During the 1970s, she and her husband were active members of the International Club of Maryland, an organization whose goal was to foster better relations among nations.

"As a result, they invited a young refugee from Cambodia, Tepy Lor, to join their family. He later went to college and became a pharmacist," Ms. Beard said.

Mrs. Beard and her husband became avid motor home enthusiasts, and from 1984 to 2000, roamed the U.S. and Canada, and even reached Alaska. As they rolled along the highway, she knitted mittens and wrote detailed postcards of their experiences to family and friends.

"No one could pack more information on a postcard," her daughter said.

The couple lived at the Glen Meadows retirement community in Glen Arm from 2001 to 2006, before moving back to their former Pikesville home that is now owned by another daughter. Holly Beard Foster.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at her church, at Charles and Franklin streets.

Also surviving are two sons, Daryl H. Beard of Pikesville and Ernest Ross Beard of San Francisco; and three grandchildren.

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