(January 28, 1926 - January 26, 2001)
Alumni Beverly George Everett actively fought farm organizations to involve farm women, travelling Iowa and neighboring states in the 1960s.
Beverly Beth George, farmer, teacher, and “professional volunteer,” was born January 28, 1926 in Janesville, Iowa, to Floyd and Florence Holden George. Growing up on a dairy farm in Black Hawk County, she developed a love of nature and a penchant for hard work. She joined 4-H at age twelve, but as a tomboy was disappointed that the boys got to do all the “good stuff,” namely raising livestock. Nevertheless, she threw herself into the girls’ 4-H activities; during the war years she produced hundreds of jars of canned vegetables from her Victory Garden and won second place in a national competition for her 4-H record book.
After graduating from Janesville High School she delayed her entrance to Iowa State so that she could help out on the family farm while her brother was serving in World War II. At Iowa State she met her future husband, Lawrence Everett. They formed lifelong friendships through the YWCA and YMCA; they would continue to exchange letters and hold regular reunions with the “Y-gang” throughout their lives. Beverly George earned a BS in Institution Management from the College of Home Economics in 1947 and married Lawrence Everett that year.
In 1948 they began farming near New Sharon in south central Iowa. When all of their five children were in school, Everett earned a teaching certificate at William Penn College and from 1963 to 1976 was a substitute teacher in the Mahaska County secondary schools. While teaching and working on the farm she began attending meetings of local farm boards and commissions, where she was often the only woman. Everett had always called herself a farmer, but she became a feminist when she found “no women’s names on the rosters of farm cooperatives, farm associations, farm policy committees.” Combining family life and activism, she travelled Iowa and neighboring states in the 1960s, encouraging farm organizations to involve farm women. She was named an Iowa Master Farm Homemaker in 1965.
Everett’s activism on behalf of women extended well beyond agricultural organizations. The list of organizations in which she was active fills several pages. She became deeply involved in the American Association of University Women, travelling globally as its representative to UNESCO. President Gerald Ford appointed her to represent rural women on the National Commission for the Observance of International Women’s Year that took place in 1977. And in 1983 Everett was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, one of many honors and awards she received in her lifetime.
The Everetts were loyal Cyclones, deeply committed to Iowa State University and its students. All five Everett children attended Iowa State. Beverly Everett was active on numerous ISU committees, including the Alumni Association board of directors and advisory committees to the Colleges of Agriculture and Home Economics. The Extension Service was of special interest to Everett, encompassing her concern for education, agriculture, and rural life. She served on the External Advisory Council to ISU Extended and Continuing Education, the State Extension Advisory Council, and other extension committees at the state and local level. An accomplished and engaging speaker, she was often invited to present at ISU programs and events. ISU honored her with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Home Economics, an Alumni Merit Award, and a Distinguished Achievement Citation.
Music was also a passion of Everett’s. In the George family, “singing was as important as three meals a day” and that love of music never left Beverly Everett. When in the 1980s she came across information in her late mother’s papers about the rural women’s choruses first organized by the Extension Service in the 1920s, she embarked on a research project on the history of the choruses with ISU extension music specialist Neil Bjurstrom. Their work culminated in 1986 in Rural Music Day, a celebration of the 1936 production of “Bohemian Girl” in which her parents had sung.
Beverly Everett died of a heart ailment at the age of 74 on January 26, 2001. As Jean Buston wrote in the Oskaloosa Herald, Beverly Everett “met polite society head-on, rocking the foundations of sedate civil clubs and international conferences alike with a no-nonsense can-do philosophy which eventually took her around the globe on a 50-year quest to put food in the belly and college within the grasp of every human citizen.”
Beverly Everett Papers, Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA), University of Iowa Libraries. Quotations are from her talk “From Farm Woman to Feminist” (November 14, 1994) and from an article by Jean Buston in the Oskaloosa Herald (February 5, 2001).