April 9, 1923 – May 17, 2022
Durham, North Carolina – Dorothy Louise Chorpening (“Dottie”) Bevan, of Croasdaile Village, Durham, North Carolina passed away peacefully on May 17, 2022, aged 99. Dottie to her friends and family (Mom or DCB to her sons; Nana to her grandchildren and great grandchildren) was born on April 9, 1923 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the daughter of Lt. CH Chorpening and Hildegarde McC. Filbert Chorpening. She would spend much of her early life on various military bases and in cities where her father, a career army officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers, took his family. Dottie experienced tragedy at a young age when her younger brother, William Henry, died in infancy, in 1931 followed by the subsequent loss of her mother in 1933 from complications due to a medical procedure.
In 1933 when her father received orders to proceed to remote Northeast Montana, Dottie remained in Washington DC to finish her school year. She then went to live with her Aunt and Uncle in tiny Trent, South Dakota, before joining her father at Ft. Peck Montana. In the almost five years she lived in Montana (1935-1939), she saw many of life’s extremes caused by the Great Depression and never forgot them. These experiences shaped not only her deep well of resolve, but instilled in her a deep sensitivity to the needs and concerns of others, an overwhelming sense of generosity, and an ability to see the good in most people.
Following her graduation from high school at Ft. Peck, Montana, in 1939, Dottie entered Stephens College for Women, Columbia Missouri, and after completing a two year degree, she entered the Women’s College at Duke University in 1942, graduating in 1944 with a BA in Sociology. While there, she was a member of The University synchronized swimming team and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, a bond she would later share with one of her daughters-in-law. By all accounts, she was an excellent student. With her father serving in Europe for most of World War II, it was natural that she would become very active in the College Organization for General Services (“COGS”), a service organization for women at Duke that supported local and national organizations during World War II. COGS women put on variety shows, rolled bandages for the Red Cross, knit clothing for soldiers, donated blood, sold war stamps and bonds and many other activities for the war effort. Dottie served as chairman for the 1943-1944 academic year. Following graduation from Duke, she took a job with General Electric in a defense plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she worked until her marriage.
While at Duke, Dottie met William (“Bill”) Bevan, Jr., a graduate student in Psychology, from Plains Pennsylvania. The couple married in February of 1945, while he was a Naval Officer stationed at the Naval Language Intelligence School, Boulder Colorado.
Following her husband’s discharge from the Navy in July of 1946, Dottie and the first of their three sons went to live in Plains, Pennsylvania with her husband’s parents and youngest brother Joe, while her husband returned to Duke to complete his doctorate. While there, she developed a very close and enduring relationship with her mother-in-law and came to embrace her husband’s family more than her own. Following receipt of her husband’s doctorate, she and Bill embarked on his long career in academia that took them and their three sons to Georgia, New Mexico, Kansas, California, Maryland, and North Carolina. At each stop along the way, Dottie proved adept at aiding her husband’s career as a faculty wife, department chairman’s wife, Dean and Provost’s wife. She served as the social host for the Science and Public Policy Roundtable dinner at Duke. She made her husband’s career entirely possible because she put aside her own considerable talent to raise their three sons, manage her family’s household and financial affairs and engage in numerous volunteer activities. When Bill’s career took Dottie and him to Chicago in 1982, she decided to go back to work – as the executive assistant to the CEO of the Chicago department store chain, Carson Pirie Scott & Co. After her husband suffered a stroke in 1988, she became his sole caregiver, and as she had so many times before, made his life longer and more enduring. The couple returned to Durham for retirement in 1991. They celebrated 62 years of marriage in February of 2007, shortly before Bill passed away.
Dottie Bevan’s long life was a life well-lived. She has been described as a quintessential woman of the Greatest Generation, that generation of Americans forged by the experience of the Great Depression and World War II. She understood both duty and sacrifice. She radiated warmth and kindness, and made friends easily, cultivating and maintaining lifelong relationships. She instilled deep knew feelings of affection in others who her. Although possessed of physical beauty (one of her daughters-in-law described her as “movie star beautiful”) she understood that real beauty came from within. Generous to a fault and selfless (she didn’t like to spend money on herself), she made sure young faculty as well as older ones were not alone at holidays. Up until the latter years of her life, she continued the annual Christmas letter to family and friends, a tradition that she and her husband Bill had started early in their married life. Dottie read widely, loved a good mystery, and enjoyed PBS mysteries and Turner Classic Movies. She loved all kinds of music, but was drawn to the Welsh hymns and folk tunes of her husband’s Welsh ancestry. Dottie believed in education and in the arts, and generously supported both. She became particularly knowledgeable about the Native American art of the Southwestern United States. She respected tradition, was deeply religious and held firm to her longtime social beliefs in support of women’s rights, the importance of sex education and pro-choice options. A woman who paid close attention to her own health and appearance, she believed that lots of vegetables and strict diets were essential to the growth of a strong family. Her husband and sons did not always agree. However, there was always room for dessert at her table, provided you cleaned your plate first!
Dottie Bevan is survived by a half-sister, Anne Chorpening, of Reston, Virginia, her three sons and their wives, William Bevan III (Gail) of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr. Mark F. Bevan (Ursula) of Farmington, New Mexico, and Philip R. Bevan (Nanette) of Chevy Chase, Maryland. She also leaves nine grandchildren: Allison Morris (Matt), Andrew Bevan (Megan), Brian Bevan, Thomas Bevan, David Bevan (Elspeth), Daniel Bevan, Maxwell Bevan, Theodore Bevan (Alexandra Mauro), Pryce Bevan and six great grandchildren. In addition, a number of nieces and nephews will mourn her passing.
A memorial service will be held at Croasdaile Village at a date to be determined later. Interment will be private at Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina. Memorial gifts may be made to the Duke University Chapel, Planned Parenthood, or to the charity of one’s choice.
Published by The Herald Sun on May 29, 2022.