Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In Memoriam: Beverly Barton by Peggy Webb

Today is the launch date for Beverly Barton’s latest romantic suspense, Dead by Morning.  It’s still unbelievable that Beverly won’t be showing up at the Heart of Dixie Reader’s Luncheon in Huntsville, Alabama this weekend to greet fans, hugs friends and sign copies of her new book.

Beverly died unexpected last Thursday, April 21st.  I was sitting in the doctor’s office for a follow-up visit with the ear, nose and throat specialist when the call came in from Debra Webb, who is not only my dear friend but also another amazing romantic suspense author.  “The doctor will be here any minute,” I told Deb. “Can I call you back?”  Her reply forever changed the way I view my life. “Yes,” she said, “but I have to tell you that Beverly Barton had a heart attack this morning and died.”
How could that be? Beverly was only 64. She was full of plans, full of story ideas, full of life. She was expecting children and grandchildren home for Easter. She was reveling in her role of wife, mother, grandmother.

Nothing is certain. Not even the next breath.

I first met Beverly when I was a newly published author and she was an aspiring writer.  It was in the early 80s at a writers’ conference on the lovely campus of the University of North Alabama in Florence, only a short drive from Beverly’s hometown of Tuscumbia   I knew even then that she was destined for success. She sparkled from the inside out. She was full of enthusiasm for story telling, and excited about meeting people who wrote, talked about, and loved books.

By 1989 she had published her first book – Yankee Lover.  When she died she had written almost 70 books and was a New York Times best-selling author.

But Beverly was so much more than an accomplished and much-lauded author.  She was a beautiful woman with a smile that lit up the room, a generous spirit that allowed her to mentor aspiring writers, and a heart big enough to love not only family and dear friends but everyone who came in contact with her.

I was one of the lucky ones.  Though we lived in different states, I knew I could always count on her.  When I needed sound advice, I knew I could turn to Beverly.  And when I needed help, she was there. Once when my plane bypassed my hometown of Tupelo because of fog and landed in Tuscumbia, I called Beverly.  She picked me up in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm. 

I spent the night in her home, and for those of knew her best, that meant lots of laughter. She had me rolling on the floor with her story of getting so disgusted with her computer, she jerked the cord out of the wall, then proceeded down the stairs, cord in hand, computer bumping along behind like a disobedient dog. When her husband looked up, startled, she told him, “Don’t say a word.” On the carport, she took his hammer and smashed the offensive computer to bit. Then she marched back inside, announced, “There. That’s done with,” and drove into town to get a new computer.

Beverly Barton was charming, spirited, witty, gracious, focused, hard-working, generous and talented.  She was one-of-a-kind and she has left a huge void not only in the publishing world but in the hearts of her family, friends, and fans.

I invite you to share memories of her and express your sympathy to her family on this blog.

Peggy Webb has been writing novels since 1985. She expresses her deepest sympathy to Beverly’s family. Along with the other Heart of Dixie writers, she weeps for the loss of a friend and fellow writer.



Anna Michaels said...

Indeed, Beverly was beautiful inside and out. I grieve for her loss and pray that her family will find strength in faith and solace in memories.

Debra Webb said...

What a lovely post, Peggy. Beverly will be sorely missed.

Callie James said...

Beautiful post, Peggy. Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us.

Peggy Webb said...

Callie, Debra, thanks for stopping by to pay tribute to Beverly.

Vicki Hinze said...

Peggy, your story of Beverly reminds me much of my own. I was new and grass green and she was more experienced. We met and became penpals (days before email and Internet) and she was always there with an encouraging word or a tidbit of advice that was a jewel.

I'm so glad she got to live her dream. I'm so glad she was recognized both as a wonderful author and as a wonderful human being.

The world is poorer for her loss, but we're richer for her season in our lives.



Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading her books and "knowing" Beverly through Peggy. She will be missed. I LOVED the story about the "dog-leashed" computer the first time I heard it and I laughed just as hard this time. Lovely post Peggy. She will be missed but we were better off for knowing her, as my Granddad would have said.
Anita Webb

paula said...

A good tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. She will be missed.

Dru said...

What a lovely tribute. She will be missed.

Unknown said...

I remember meeting Beverly Barton for the first time a couple of years ago at the Readers Luncheon. To say I was starstruck is an understatement! But she was so incredibly gracious and down-to-earth, as well as the epitome of southern charm, that I'll never forget it. She will always be one of my favorite writers and her talent and gifts will be sorely missed. And her spirit will be missed by all that knew her and never had the chance to meet her. My prayers and thoughts are with her family. Awesome post, Peggy. It is a fitting tribute to a wonderful woman.

B. J. Robinson said...

So sorry to hear about Beverly. I'd just bought two of her books, but I've never read her before. Prayers for her family. I write and love romantic suspense. BJ

Anonymous said...

I never had the opportunity to meet Beverly, but your tribute to her convinced me it would have been a major blessing for me had our lives crossed paths. God speed on her new journey.
Jackie Lee Miles

Shellie Tomlinson said...

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Beverly, but after this post Peggy, I felt like I had just enjoyed a tiny visit with her. Thank you for honoring your friend and our fellow author.

Self Book Publishing said...

Its a lovely tribute and she will be surely missed.