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Spring 2008

Beale Plaza Dedicated In Memory of Lynne O'Steen Beale, Class of 1964

Kent Booty Associate Editor

Beale Plaza Dedication (from left) Joan Brock '64, Mary Beale Payne, Sarah Beale Mims, and Dr. Patricia Cormier

A new memorial garden at Longwood University recognizes an alumna’s lifelong attachment to her alma mater and her Longwood classmates.

Beale Plaza, which honors Lynne O’Steen Beale, ’64, was the idea of her husband and daughters, Mary Beale Payne and Sarah Beale Mims, and Longwood classmate Joan Perry Brock, ’64, her best friend since they were second grade classmates in Norfolk. The Plaza, located by the fountain behind Grainger Hall, features a semi-circular colonnade, garden areas, a brick sidewalk and borders, two granite benches and two wooden benches. Numerous friends and family members contributed to the project, dedicated Sept. 21, 2007.

"When Mary and Sarah decided to remember their mother with a memorial garden at Longwood, their decision was based on Lynne’s affinity for her alma mater and her close association with the lifelong friendships made during her collegiate days," said Brock. "When the location of the memorial was selected, that too was appropriate, as Lynne would have walked by this spot every day of her collegiate life on her way to class or to the dining hall."

Also appropriately, Beale Plaza is adjacent to Brock Commons, the result of a major gift from Joan Brock and her husband, Macon. "It was a way to keep Joan and our mother together," explained Mary Beale Payne. "My mom had hung out by this spot at the Brock Commons dedication and the dedication of the new Ruffner Hall. So when Dr. Cormier offered us this spot, I thought it was perfect. It just fit. Our mom always had flowers in the house and flowers in the garden."

Beale, who died July 11, 2006 of colon cancer at age 63, was a former member of the Longwood Alumni Board who lived in McLean. After graduating from Longwood, she taught in Richmond and then Norfolk for six years. She was a volunteer fundraiser with the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital for 20 years.

"We all remember Lynne for her sense of humor," said Brock. "She was always quick to make a joke. She always saw the best in people. She was the eternal optimist. Even during her illness, she was grateful for the life she had. But above all, Lynne’s great strength was based on her endless capacity to give. She was always available for everyone else: her family, her husband, her daughters, her grandchildren, her mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, her friends near and far. She was always there for all of us."

Longwood President Patricia Cormier called Beale "a person of rare quality and substance." She thanked the members of the Class of 1964 – who called themselves the "Longwood ladies" – for helping make Beale Plaza possible. "This is just another example of the leadership and pride that seems to be inherent with real ‘Longwood ladies.’" Noting the light rain that fell during the dedication ceremony, she said "This rain is good because it means the garden will grow immediately."

In her remarks, Mary Beale Payne described her mother’s attachment to her alma mater. "Lots of her lifetime friendships began here at Longwood. When she came here for the Brock Commons dedication, she was so taken in by it all she was actually a little quiet, which was definitely out of character for her! She was proud of the special gift that Joan and Macon had given to this school, and I remember her saying what a difference Brock Commons would make to this campus and its students. When we were faced with how to best honor her memory, we wanted to do something that she would have been proud of and would have done herself if given the choice. By expanding upon Brock Commons, we continue to give back to others just as she gave so selflessly to many people."