Beverly Dalferes Latimer, longtime director of the Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, has died at age 95.
Latimer died on Tuesday, her family says. A native of Lafayette, she married her husband Ewing in 1949 after earning her B.A. at Southwestern Louisiana and her M.A. at the University of Wisconsin.
She began her journey as an educator soon after, teaching in rural communities in the River Parishes, then the College of the Sacred Heart and SLI/USL.
The Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, now known as the Lafayette Science Museum, was born in 1969 as a volunteer movement by a women's group to bring science enrichment to area schools; Beverly was elected president of that group in 1952. Beverly's goal was to showcase the region's Acadian heritage and "what she recognized as the extraordinary way of life of Louisiana's native craftspeople," her family says.
Latimer helped produce dozens of Louisiana-focused exhibits, films, lectures, and more, and secured federal grants for key projects like Atchafalaya Swamp Life, which documented the people and value of the Atchafalaya Basin.
She served as chairman of the museum commission and president of the board of the museum association in Lafayette, then served as museum director from 1970 until her retirement in 1986. In 1972, the museum hosted the first annual Louisiana Native Crafts Festival, now the oldest single component of the cooperative celebrated in Girard Park each year as Festivals Acadiéns et Creoles.
Her loved ones 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 multiple other friends and family members.
Visitation will be observed at Martin & Castille's downtown Lafayette location on Thursday, November 4, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. until time of service. A Scripture Wake Service by Brady LeBlanc, Sacristan of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, will be on Thursday at 7:00 PM in Martin & Castille Funeral Home. The Very Rev. Chester Arceneaux, Rector of the Cathedral, will be Celebrant of the Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral on Friday, November 5, 2021 at 10:00 AM and will conduct the private graveside services on Saturday, November 6, 2021, in St. John's Cemetery. Face coverings will be required at all services.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to St. Joseph Diner ℅ Catholic Charities of Acadiana, P.O. Box 3177, Lafayette, LA 70502 or to the Schools of the Sacred Heart, P.O. Box 310, Grand Coteau, LA 70541.
Latimer's full obituary can be found here.
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