Beverly B. Graham, a pioneer in the field of aeronautical engineering and a long time resident of Shaw Island, was born in Worcester, MA, on October 23, 1926. She and her beloved brother Robert were adopted and raised together by Herman and Eldora Bean of Fitchburg, MA.
Beverly excelled at mathematics and after graduation from Fitchburg High School in 1943 she went on to receive Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1952, after a period of employment at United Aircraft Corp., she joined Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, CA. There Beverly was twice awarded the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship for further study, and in 1960 she became the first woman ever to earn a Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from MIT.
While at Douglas Aircraft, Beverly met her future husband, Ernest W. Graham. They married in 1965 and from then on lived and worked together in their home overlooking Indian Cove on Shaw Island.
Together at Graham Associates, Beverly and Ernest consulted for Boeing and other aircraft companies on problems of theoretical fluid mechanics, turbulence and jet noise. Their work was well known and highly respected by their peers.
Beverly and Ernest enjoyed a loving partnership based on their work and on a shared appreciation of community and the natural world. Together, they donated land for the Shaw Community Building. A devout Christian, Beverly was a mainstay of the non-denominational Shaw Fellowship, and out of her love for books and learning, she gave countless hours in support of the Shaw Island Library and served for many years on the Shaw Island School Board. Her beautiful roses and garden delighted passersby, and she was a champion of animal welfare. Her kindness, modesty and devotion inspired many true and lasting friendships.
After Ernest’s death in 2002, Beverly moved to San Juan Island. By then her brilliant mind was dimmed by Alzheimer’s Disease, but her extraordinary sweetness of spirit remained to the end. She died August 23, 2008, at R House Adult Family Home in Friday Harbor. She was 82 years old.
The 99-acre Graham Preserve is the wonderful bequest that Ernest and Beverly left to the San Juan Preservation Trust. A publicly-accessible trail was established on the Graham Preserve in 2013, linking the Shaw Community Center with Shaw County Park on Indian Cove.