Helping guide Longwood’s future was well worth the trips

“I was dumbfounded when I learned the news. I really didn’t expect to be honored in this way,” said Mary Ellen Moore Beale ’59, a retired educator who lives in Williamsburg.

After graduating from Longwood, Beale taught school in Richmond and remained an active alumnus, increasingly so when Dr. Henry Willett, her friend and president of Longwood at the time, invited her to serve on Longwood’s Board of Visitors.

Beale served on the board from 1972-78. During those years, she held various positions including secretary, vice rector and finally rector for two years.

“You name it, the Board of Visitors did it,” she recalled. “Everything from awarding student scholarships to the things professors were anxious to get done but hadn’t gotten around to.”

During her time on the board, Beale left Richmond and returned to her native Newport News. “It was a long drive back and forth to Farmville, especially in those days. Another board member and I would drive together to Farmville, and we’d stay with Dr. Willett and his family at the Longwood estate when we were there for meetings.”

Beale attributed her willingness to serve on the board to her undergraduate years at Longwood. “I loved every minute of it. I developed good, lasting relationships with students and professors. It was maybe the most inspiring time of my life.”

Away from Longwood, Beale enjoyed a successful career in education in Newport News, where she taught first grade and high-school English before being named as the first principal of a new high school. Later she was promoted to the central office, where she helmed personnel, mostly the hiring of new teachers. She ended her work life as administrative assistant to the superintendent.

Beale remains in touch with friends she made at Longwood and recently attended her 60-year reunion. Carrying on the family tradition, her grandson, Thomas Beale, is currently a Longwood freshman.

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