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Remembering Former Faculty Member Beverly Lee, DVM, P ’80, ’82, ’84, GP ’13

Kelly Slonaker

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of former longtime Canterbury faculty member Dr. Beverly “Bev” Lee P ’80, ’82, ’84, GP ’13. Bev passed away at her home in New Milford, CT, on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

Originally from Elkins Park, PA, Bev grew up on Long Island, NY, graduating from St. Mary's High School in Garden City in 1955. Bev then went on to attend Cornell University, NY, first as an undergraduate and later to earn her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 1961, graduating as one of only two women in the program. Bev lived in Framingham, MA, before moving to New Milford, CT, in 1964, where she worked as a veterinarian at New Milford Animal Hospital for six years before turning her full attention to raising her family. 

In 1980, Bev embarked on a second career as a faculty member at Canterbury. In her first year, she was appointed Athletic Director for girls’ athletics in addition to coaching cross country, squash, and tennis. In her second year, Bev was offered a position to teach biology. However, there was a last-minute need for a chemistry teacher, so Bev began her career as a faculty member teaching both courses. In a strange twist of fate, Bev’s youngest daughter, Jen Chandler ’84, was also hired to teach biology at Canterbury but soon switched to teaching chemistry. The two taught in parallel for over 20 years and were highlighted in a 2013 issue of Pallium, in which former faculty member and Chair of the Science Department Sandy Behan noted, “Bev’s ability to teach and to instill a love for learning biology and chemistry is remarkable. She is a mentor to all of us in the department.” In the same article, former faculty member and Dean of Faculty Lou Mandler described Bev as “irreplaceable.”
 
Bev guided students through some of Canterbury's most challenging biology and chemistry classes until her retirement in 2016 at the age of 79—after 36 years. During her tenure, she taught Microbiology, Anthropology, regular and Honors Biology, regular and Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and Introduction to Physical Science, while also serving as a coach and advisor to the Canterbury Honor Society. In 2006, she was the recipient of the esteemed Women of Canterbury Award, presented to a Canterbury woman who has influenced the lives of Canterbury's young women and whose accomplishments reflect her wisdom, compassion, and selflessness. Fittingly, her daughter, Jen ’84, received the same award in 2013.

Chair of the Science Department and Director of Sustainability Cammy Roffe P ’12, ’15 worked with Bev for over 20 years and shared gratitude for her colleague and mentor: “Several years ago, the Science Department dressed as characters from Winnie the Pooh for Halloween. Bev was Owl—a perfect fit, as she was the one we all would go to for answers to hard scientific questions. She was an incredible mentor to faculty, a friend to all, always ready to laugh, and known to blow something up once in a while to explain a point to her students! We miss her dearly.”

Outside of teaching, Bev was an avid golfer and loved spending time with her three daughters, Laura Lee Quirk ’80, Amy Lee ’82, and Jen Chandler ’84 and their families, especially her grandchildren—Deirdre Quirk and her wife Leya Strode, Keely Quirk, Kinsey Chandler ’13, Brenna Quirk, Robin Chandler, and August Lee-Kovach. She will forever be remembered fondly by all who knew her at Canterbury for her humor, wisdom, and can-do attitude.