Beverly Newcomb Hunter was born March 4, 1924 in Webster, South Dakota and died peacefully January 24, 2022 in Sioux Falls.
Her parents, Myrtle Dahl and Parker Newcomb, were both from large and loving families; and Beverly grew up surrounded by many aunts, uncles and cousins. As the first-born Dahl grandchild, she was doted on by her extended family.
At age 4 she was named Little Miss Flandreau and proudly drove her prize, a self-propelled car, around the town, charming all the citizens. Precocious and intelligent, her birthday was unofficially changed to December 4 so she could enter kindergarten early. Beverly was a stellar student and was valedictorian of her high school class in Alexandria, Louisiana where her family relocated her senior year due to World War II. Colonel Parker Newcomb headed up the South Dakota National Guard Engineering unit that was training there.
At the University of South Dakota, Beverly initially majored in theatre until developing vocal nodules, which prompted a change to a major in social work. She was voted Miss Vanity Fair and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She was happy years later when both her daughters and a granddaughter followed in her sorority footsteps and became Thetas.
After graduation from USD, Beverly moved to live and work in Los Angeles for several years. She worked as a magazine model, uniformed car hop, Beverly Hills telephone operator, and entered the police academy training program (but resigned after being required to learn strip-searching). She also built a home in the hills of Beverly Glen Canyon.
In 1949, while visiting her parents in Madison, she saw a handsome man walking down the street and remarked to her mother, “I don’t plan on living here; but if I did, that’s the man I’d marry.” Merrill Hunter, the man in question, had recently moved to South Dakota after service in the Marine Corps when his family purchased The Madison Daily Leader. Merrill’s mother Cornelia told him she had met “a beautiful woman visiting Madison who wore the biggest hat.” Cornelia coaxed him to meet Beverly…even though Beverly didn’t sound like his type from that description.
Soon after marrying in 1950, Merrill was recalled into the Marine Corps and he and Beverly lived at several bases during the next two years. After settling in Madison, Beverly and Merrill loved spending time with their extended families, and over the years many fun and musical family events took place at their home on Egan Avenue, as well as on various boats at Lake Madison. Favorite family vacation destinations were Glen Lake in northern Michigan, Harbour Island in the Bahamas, and La Quinta, California. Beverly loved international travel and continued to visit family and take trips with her friends after Merrill’s death in 1990. For many winters,
she lived in a rented apartment in Palo Alto, California, where her daughter Laurie lives.
Beverly was a devoted daughter to her mother and played Scrabble with her frequently. She was an active mother to her three children and enthusiastically supported their scholastic and extra-curricular activities. She was an anti-smoking advocate and believed strongly in women’s rights and gun control. She was very involved in many ways at Grace Episcopal Church and other community organizations throughout her long life.
For the past two years of the pandemic, Beverly had twice-weekly Zoom conversations with her children until four days before her passing. Many family stories were revisited and new ones shared…a blessing that was unexpected. She was also blessed over many years by weekly dinners out and drop-in visits by her son, his wife and their two children. Beverly and Merrill were both thankful that their children and their families were always in close contact and loved one another deeply.
The family would like to thank Touchmark/Waterford staff for their 13-year friendship and care, especially nurse Jackie Lofswold and Taylor Nichols, Zoom-master and close companion; the staff at [email protected] hospice care, and Dougherty House hospice where she spent her last three days of life.
Survivors include her three children: Janet Hunter (David Zenoff), Laurie Hunter (Jonathan MacQuitty), and Jon Hunter (Mary); five grandchildren: Alexander MacQuitty, Alexandra Hunter Zenoff (Stuart Hemphill), Carolyn Hunter, Philip MacQuitty (Micaela), and Andrew Hunter; one great-grandchild, Gemma MacQuitty; sister: Margaret (Peg) Newcomb; two brothers-in-law: Arthur Taylor and John Goeman; one sister-in-law: Mary Newcomb; her best friend Marcia Wenk; and many nieces and nephews, including close nephew and nieces Parker, Stacy and Sherri Newcomb.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Merrill DeWitt Hunter; her brother Parker William Newcomb, Jr.; and her sisters: Patricia Keplinger and JoLynn Goeman.
Visitation with the family will begin Thursday, February 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Rustand-Weiland Funeral Chapel, with a prayer service at 7:15 p.m. The funeral will be held Friday, February 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, with burial next to her husband at Graceland Cemetery following. Memorials can be directed to Grace Episcopal Church or a charity of your choice.