Beverly Isis

Obituary of Beverly Isis

Beverly Gail Isis, age 58, succumbed to the aggressive brain cancer known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (aka GBM), on Friday, October 11, 2013 -- thirteen months after she had a seizure and was found to have two malignant tumors in stage IV. She died at her mother's home in Silver Spring, MD. Fighting the cancer and struggling to prolong her life, Beverly had two surgeries to remove the tumors, but both times they grew back. She was unable to complete the standard treatment protocol of outpatient oral chemotherapy and radiation, as she began having seizures again after just two weeks of treatment. Despite the second surgery in April, on June 24 an MRI showed that the tumors had grown back, and on July 31st she found herself unable to walk. Beverly was born 5/22/55 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Silver Spring. She attended Rosemary Hills Elementary School, Montgomery Hills Jr. High School, and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, graduating in 1973. She studied at many institutions including the University .of Barcelona, the U. of Maryland, Montgomery College, Cooper Union, and the New York Botanical Garden. Beverly was well-read, well-informed, and accomplished. She loved and acquired a great breadth of knowledge of literature, art, music, architecture, and film; wrote poetry; achieved fluency in Spanish; studied Portuguese and Italian; and played the piano and cello. Bev's primary identity was that of Artist, and she loved Nature. She worked to master many skills, including many ethnic cuisines, bread making, floral arrangement, mosaic, furniture design and construction, upholstery and wood refinishing, and various fine art media, including photography, watercolor, and botanical illustration. She had been a vegetarian for decades, and was knowledgeable about nutrition and herbal remedies. She adopted many homeless dogs over the years; when one dog died, another seemed to find her. Beverly spent most of her 20's living in the D.C. area. She was a chef at Food for Thought, one of the first vegetarian cafes in town, and was an early member of the Bethesda Food Co-op. She later worked as head chef at The Tabard Inn. She also lived in San Francisco for a while, working at a bookstore/bakery. In 1983 Bev completed a Landscape Design program at The George Washington University and moved to Manhattan to be near friends and start her own garden design and installation business, Primavera. She settled in a primarily Dominican area at the northern tip of Manhattan near The Cloisters, finding an apartment with a view of wild Inwood Hill Park, directly across the street from her building. She lived in the Inwood neighborhood (200th St. North - Dyckman Street) the rest of her life. Her landscape design career included positions with Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, where she was Head Groundskeeper for almost a decade; the New York City Parks Department; the New York Restoration Project, and Groundworks, as well as her own business. She loved working with children and teens, and supervised high school students in summer work programs, teaching them job skills along with gardening skills. Bev incorporated the most progressive ecological ideas into her work, solving drainage problems with water gardens, installing green roofs, using native plants, etc. She was also active in her community, serving on advisory committees and working to improve neighborhood green spaces at local schools and parks. For many years Bev regularly attended poetry readings at St. Mark's Church in the East Village and was part of the circle around Allen Ginsberg and other poets influenced by Tibetan Buddhism and the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, Rimpoche. Bev had been interested in Buddhism since her teens, starting with Zen, and attended retreats and workshops from time to time, including with Thich Nhat Hanh, well-known Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, and with Trungpa. She took the Boddhisattva vow and strove to be compassionate and kind, going out of her way to help many people who crossed her path. Her personal life was dominated for many years by a close relationship with Peter Orlovsky, a writer and friend of Ginsberg. Bev was a passionate person with a strong sense of ethics and integrity, high standards, and a great need to create beauty. She was liberal to radical in her political views, formed in the turmoil of the Viet Nam war and the counterculture, and was versed in political philosophy from Ayn Rand to Anarchism. She was also much influenced by Existentialism. Bereft survivors include Bev's mother, Joyce Isis, 87; younger sister Melanie Isis (Les Bodian) of Silver Spring; older sister Nancy Dawn Isis of Campbell, CA; and close cousins Patricia Isis of Miami, FL and Julianne Scherker of Manhattan. Bev was the beloved aunt of nephew Spencer Bodian and nieces Anna and Naomi Isis-Brown and Natalie Bodian. She will also be sorely missed by her many friends and other relatives. Beverly chose to be cremated, and her ashes will be buried in historic Rock Creek Cemetery in the District, next to the grave of an aunt. A graveside observance of her passing will be held in November. Friends in New York also plan to hold a memorial event at some point. The family may be contacted at Donations to causes close to Bev's heart are suggested for those who chose to respond in this way to her passing.
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