Long-time director of the Lafayette museum dies at 95
Beverly Dalferes Latimer, longtime director of the Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, has died aged 95.
Latimer died on Tuesday, her family said. Originally from Lafayette, she married her husband Ewing in 1949 after earning her BA in Southwest Louisiana and her MA from the University of Wisconsin.
She began her journey as an educator shortly thereafter, teaching in the rural communities of the parishes of the river, then at the College of the Sacred Heart and at the SLI / USL.
The Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, now known as the Lafayette Science Museum, was born in 1969 as a voluntary movement of a group of women to bring scientific enrichment to schools in the region; Beverly was elected president of this group in 1952. Beverly’s goal was to showcase the Acadian heritage of the region and “what she considered to be the extraordinary way of life of native Louisiana artisans,” says her family.
Latimer has helped produce dozens of exhibitions, films, lectures, and more. Louisiana-focused, and has secured federal grants for key projects like Atchafalaya Swamp Life, which has documented the people and value of the Atchafalaya Basin.
She was president of the museum commission and president of the board of directors of the association of museums in Lafayette, then was director of the museum from 1970 until her retirement in 1986. In 1972, the museum hosted the first Louisiana’s annual Native Crafts Festival, now the oldest single component of the cooperative celebrated at Girard Park each year as the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles.
Her relatives say her favorite hours were spent with Ewing, her husband of 62 years, and their family. She is survived by her five children, five grandchildren, five great grandchildren and several other friends and family members.
Tours will be observed at Martin & Castille’s downtown Lafayette location on Thursday, November 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until service time. A scripture revival service by Brady LeBlanc, sacristan of Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral, will take place Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Martin & Castille Funeral Home. The Very Reverend Chester Arceneaux, Rector of the Cathedral, will celebrate Christian funeral mass in the Cathedral on Friday November 5, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. and will conduct private funeral services on Saturday November 6, 2021, at Saint-Jean cemetery. Face coverings will be compulsory in all departments.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to St. Joseph Diner ℅ Catholic Charities of Acadiana, PO Box 3177, Lafayette, LA 70502 or to the Sacred Heart Schools, PO Box 310, Grand Coteau, LA 70541.
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