Beatrice Vanderpool Behr

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 16, 2012


Beatrice Vanderpool Behr, 99, passed away on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at Cypress Glen Memory Cottage. She was born on July 28, 1913 at Altamont Springs, New York to the late Orville and Emily Vanderpool and resided in Greenville since 1951.
As a young girl, she was nicknamed Bee; not as a shortened version of Beatrice, but because her father called her a “busy bee”. Throughout life, she has continued to be busy. Her education at Rutgers University was interrupted for financial reasons and marriage, and to accommodate the raising of three children. Later, however, her talent and drive provided the impetus to complete her BA and MFA degrees from East Carolina University. Along with the creation of her works, she taught Art History at ECU. She has also taught courses in pottery at Cypress Glen. Her art has been shown in Greenville, Raleigh and Belhaven.
Bee Behr was not simply an interesting person. She was always an interesting person. And, art was not her only interest. She worked diligently for the ECU Friends of Joyner Library, helped start and maintain the first African-American pre-school and kindergarten in Pitt County, and was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville. For many years, she was a member of Literacy Volunteers and has taught many adults to read. Bee was an ardent outdoors person who loved hiking, paddling, and camping. A member of the Sierra Club and the Pamlico Tar River Foundation, she also advocated for the Greenville city parks.
In 2007, she was honored by the Girl Scouts as a Woman of Distinction. Among other service to scouting, she started and led the first African-American Girl Scout Troop in Pitt County. As such, she was chosen as a role model who inspires girls to have courage, confidence and character, thus making the world a better place. At the age of 94, this was quite an accolade.
Travel has always been an important part of life for Bee. She has spent time in 22 different countries. Each trip has had its own special impact, including international friendships and the rich experiences which inspire creativity. She has always carried a sketch pad and pencil to record subjects and memories from these experiences. Often, the sketches would, later, dictate the focus of a wonderful picture or piece of pottery.
She is survived by her brother Douglas of Horseshoe Bay, TX and sister Virginia of Naugatuck, CT; and predeceased by brother Orville, Jr. Bee was married to the late John Henry Behr (d. 1982) of Mexico City. She is survived by sons Lawrence Behr and wife Libby of Washington, NC; John Behr of Del Rio, TN; and daughter Barbara Behr of Montreal, Canada; and grandchildren Lawrence Behr II (aka Lipbone) of Greenville, NC, Jennifer Cargile and great-granddaughter Margaret “Maggie” of Raleigh, NC; and many others to whom she was “Aunt Bee”.
A memorial service will be held at the Greenville Unitarian-Universalist Congregation at 131 Oakmont Drive, Greenville, NC at 2 PM October 16th. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be to the Congregation.