Hilda Bevis Chamberlain, born Oct. 26, 1923, to a family of simple sharecroppers in Bowling Green, Fla., died at home from congestive heart failure, surrounded by family and caregivers on Aug. 23, 2012, as was her wish.
She came to Bartow in 1926, at the age of 3 to live with William F. “W.F.” and Augusta Bevis at the same address where she passed away. W.F. was her mother’s first cousin, and it was the first of many “charmed” stories of Hilda’s life. After 1926, she was a lifelong resident of Polk County, being finally adopted as an adult by W.F. Bevis after legislation passed proposed by him and his law partner, Sen. Spessard Holland, to allow adoption of adult children in 1945.
She was graduated from Florida Southern College in 1944, married Richard J. Chamberlain, and together they had four children.
Mrs. Chamberlain was a teacher in Polk County until her retirement in 1984. She was an avid traveler, visiting Africa, Australia, China, Fiji, Greece, Hawaii, New Zealand, many countries in Europe, and almost all of the U.S. national parks. She took most of her grandchildren on a trip after their graduation from high school.
She was active in First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland for years, and served as an elder. When she returned to Bartow in 1995, she joined First Presbyterian Church in Bartow, teaching Sunday School for many years. She was a member of the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, a 50-year member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood Chapter “O,” and served as president from 1987-1990. She was active and held offices in the Church Women United Organization that took her on several missionary trips. She served as president from 1994-1995, and received the Valiant Woman Award, in honor of her service to Church Women United, her church service and her community service.
She is survived by her “mom” of more than five decades, Adele T. Bevis Durrance of Bartow; sister-in-law, Ruth Kahler of Valdosta, Ga.; daughter, Carole C. Marler (Jim) of Lakeland; sons, William “Bill” Chamberlain (Jean) of Punta Gorda, Jordan L. Chamberlain of Apollo Beach, and C. Blake Chamberlain (Gail) of Mulberry; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins, all of whom she loved as if they were her own.
Visitation: Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 5-7 p.m., at Whidden-McLean Funeral Home, 650 E. Main St., Bartow.
Service: Thursday, Aug. 30, at
10 a.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 355 S. Florida Ave., Bartow. Interment to follow at Wildwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Compassionate Care Hospice, 2393 E.F. Griffin Road, Bartow, FL 33830, or to a charity of choice.
Condolences to the family may be made at www.whiddenmcleanfuneralhome.com.