Obituary: Beverlee Lou McPherson

Devoted nana, nurse, athlete and avid sports fan

Beverlee Lou McPherson, a Claremont resident since 1987, died March 9 while in the care of Seasons Hospice after a two year struggle with an incurable respiratory illness. Friends and family gathered for a celebration of her life at the family home April 20. 

 Beverlee was born to Dolores Fryatt and Anthony Wayne Gossman on February 19, 1953 at San Gabriel Valley Hospital. In 1992, she was adopted by her stepfather, James Simmons, with whom she was especially close.

 A talented athlete and fierce competitor, she graduated from West Covina’s Edgewood High School in 1971 after lettering for four years in basketball and baseball. Title IX was enacted a year later, too late for her to qualify for college scholarships. She then married her high school boyfriend, Thomas Graham, who joined the U.S. Air Force and was soon stationed in the Philippines, where their daughter, Dolores, was born. The marriage ended after the family returned stateside, and she and her daughter made their home near her parents in Covina, California. Her parents became regular babysitters. A brief marriage to Robert Barnes ended in 1985.

 After graduating from the Bryman School in 1976, she was employed as a medical assistant at Congress Associates in Pasadena for a total of 12 years, interrupted by an eight-year stint as a medical claims processor for SoCal Edison, where her adoptive father also worked.  

She met Ken, her husband to be, at a Parents Without Partners dance in 1984. After living together for several years, they were married in 1987, and soon added a room to their home to accommodate her daughter and her new husband’s three sons.  

At the age of 51, she earned her LVN license at Concord Career Institute and became the nursing director, first at Sunrise Assisted Living of Claremont, then at Claremont Place. She also became the family nurse for every minor and not so minor injury and illness suffered by her kids, grandkids and their friends.

Her dedication to helping others never ceased. In 1999, when her husband’s parents were unable to live independently, she began a life changing two year stint as office manager for the director of the local office of VNA Hospice and Palliative Care of Southern California, working for the same doctor who was caring for her mother-in-law, and eventually her father-in-law.

Anticipating the arrival of his parents, she and her husband had local architect Fred McDowell design the senior apartment that was soon built onto their home, financed in part by his parents. For two years she was office manager during the day and care provider at night.

 She loved to drive. The couple especially enjoyed traveling the West Coast, visiting relatives and friends in the Bay Area; Elk, California; Eugene, Oregon; and Montesano, Whidbey Island and Bellingham, Washington. 

She was a devoted nana to her four grandchildren, John James, Ryan, Tristan and Kieran. She was an avid Raider and Dodger fan and loved cheering at Little League games, crocheting baby blankets and playing tile rummy and cards with close friends and family.  

When her own mother and then her adoptive father became ill in 2007, she retired professionally to care for them as each went into hospice care, bringing her adoptive father into the family home after his wife died. A life of service came full circle when she herself went into hospice care. Her husband and three stepsons were at her side when she departed this life.

Ms. McPherson was predeceased by her beloved younger brother John, in 1986.

She is survived by her husband Ken; brother Robert Gossman and his wife, Nancy; stepsons David McPherson, Andrew McPherson, Ian McPherson and his wife, Kate; brother-in-law Bob McPherson and his wife, Diane; daughter Dolores Strieter and her husband, Fred; and four grandsons, four cousins and four nieces and nephews.


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