Beverly Gifford Vars passed away surrounded by her two daughters and sister-in-law on June 12th.
Two passions dominated Beverly’s life – her love of horses and her desire to take care of people. She was able to weave both of these passions into her personal and professional lives, having an impact on many people along the way.
Beverly was the oldest of four children born to Arthur and Mary Gifford in Boonton, NJ. She began riding horses at a young age and competed throughout her teenage years. After high school, she embarked on a nursing career, studying at Fairleigh Dickinson University and earning her RN degree at Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in New York, NY.
In the early 1960s, Beverly moved from NJ to Stonington, CT, and became heavily involved for the next 10 years of her life with the New London County 4-H. At the same time, she was working as a private duty nurse for geriatric patients, finding her niche in the nursing world. She would go on to work at Mary Elizabeth Nursing Home in Mystic, CT, and The Watch Hill Manor in Watch Hill, RI, taking care of countless patients during her 50-year career.
After moving to CT, Beverly met her husband, Lance, marrying in 1966. They settled in Ashaway, RI, where they raised two daughters, Elizabeth and Hillary. Beverly’s love of horses led her to the local hunt club, the Tomaquag Valley Hounds, where she eventually became the Fieldmistress and Treasurer from 1968-1978. As her daughters’ interest in horses grew, she also started her own barn in 1975, teaching generations of riders for close to 40 years. Her students competed and won from the local to the national level.
Beverly supported the regional horse show scene with her time, serving on many different association boards as President, including the Rhode Island Horseman's Association, New England Horsemen's Council and the Connecticut Hunter Jumper Association. She founded the Rhode Island Equitation Committee in 1979 and launched the RI Equitation Championships in 1980. She also chaired the CHJA Medal Finals for several years.
Retirement never sat well with Beverly and luckily she had two grandsons, Finn and Noah, who filled her days. She was a world-class Meme, known for her “feasts” on Sundays and holidays. Never one to be idle, Beverly took up writing in her later years. She decided to try her hand at writing a children's book, penning "I Remember Meme's House" as an illustrated book for her grandchildren.
In later years Beverly and Lance traveled as much as they could, taking weekend jaunts with the crew from Rotary, visiting her sister in South Africa, venturing across Scotland with friends, guiding a riverboat in Europe or traveling to the west coast to visit their grandsons.
Beverly will be greatly missed by her daughters Elizabeth Vars of Ashaway and Hillary Whelan of Carlsbad, CA; son-in-law Daniel Whelan; grandsons Finn and Noah Whelan; her brothers William and Douglas Gifford of Florida; her sister Barbara and brother-in-law Clyde Botwinick of Johannesburg, South Africa; and her sister-in-law Lois Vars Mason of Westerly.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Beverly’s honor to the Tomorrow Fund (tomorrowfund.org). A memorial service will take place at 11 am, Monday, July 15th at the Babcock Presbyterian Church in Ashaway.
For online condolences please visit www.buckler-johnston.com
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