Beverly D. (Brandes) Chrisman was born in Hagerstown, Maryland. Beverly moved to Martinsburg, West Virgina, when she was 8 years old and was raised by her Uncle Sam and Aunt Ottie Hammond.
Aunt Ottie was a Christian lady who instilled in Beverly strong morals, values, and a drive to serve others. She left Beverly a legacy that has influenced her life, with values such as “Your life will be fulfilled only when you make a difference in the lives of others.” Beverly has lived by the belief that each one of us is here to “make this world a little better than we found it” and “together, we can make a difference!”
After high school, Beverly was awarded a 4-year elementary education scholarship to Shepherd College. Unfortunately, due to her Aunt Ottie’s health, she passed up her scholarship in order to take care of her aunt and took a job with the Old National Bank in Martinsburg.
She was married in 1959 and moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where she raised three children (Max, Jr., Marcie, and Barry). She worked a variety of jobs, volunteered in church work, schools, and other community activities. It was during this time that Beverly began her volunteer “career” as a citizen advocate for parks and recreation activities and the benefits they contribute to a community.
Beverly was appointed by the governor of South Carolina in 1972 to the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission where she served for 31 years. She was secretary for 10 years, vice chair for 5 years, and chair for 15 years. Notably, she was reappointed for six separate terms by four different governors, which in itself is a testimony to the high regard in which she was held while serving this community.
During her tenure, this five-member commission built athletic facilities, recreation centers, community parks, and a riverfront park. Beverly led an initiative for a national award-winning parks/school agreement in 1974 that allows that all schools in the district to serve as recreation centers during after-school hours. A pioneering program, the Park/School Agreement has been a model for recreation agencies throughout the country.
Beverly saw the value in preserving a local riverfront and making it accessible to the citizens of the community. She worked with staff to obtain a contribution of 330 acres of land from the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company in order to build a park on the Saluda River. This has become one of the premiere park facilities in South Carolina. The $13-million Saluda Shoals riverfront park opened to the public in 2001.
Upon her retirement from the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission in 2002, she was honored with the renaming of a local community park to the Beverly D. Brandes Community Park in recognition of over 30 years of service and contribution to the community.
Knowing that her talents were also of value outside of her local community Beverly became involved with the statewide South Carolina Recreation and Park Association. She helped to organize the South Carolina Citizen Board Members Branch in 1972 and served as the president of this branch board from 1973 through 1985. She served on the State Association Board of Directors from 1972 through 1989. During this time, Beverly was elected to represent the association on the 10-state Southern Regional Council of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
In 1975, the Southern Regional Council elected Beverly to the Citizen Board Member Branch of the NRPA. Fellow Citizen Board Members from throughout the country recognized Beverly’s leadership skills by appointing her as their representative to the National Board of Trustees in 1978.
Once again, Beverly’s leadership skills and passion for the values that recreation and parks bring to a community were recognized by her peers. The 69-member board of trustees entrusted numerous committee assignments and special projects to her until ultimately electing her as chair of the board of trustees of the NRPA. She served as the chair from 1991 through 1995.
The National Recreation and Park Association represents a membership of 25,000. Its Congress for Recreation and Parks is held annually in a major city in the United States and draws from 8,000 to 10,000 recreation professionals, citizens, exhibitors, educators, and guests from other countries around the world. As chair of the association for four of these annual conferences, Beverly met with the mayors and other elected officials and dignitaries. She frequently received an honorary “key to the city.” These annual conferences serve to promote the networking of professionals and citizens from across the country and enhance the fellowship and connection between members as they shared their successes, tough lessons learned and gain a greater level of commitment to bring back to their local communities.
These were memorable years that afforded Beverly the opportunity to make a difference in lives of people across the country. She traveled widely, at significant personal expense, promoting the recreation programs for youth-at-risk, senior citizens, healthy lifestyles, youth sports programs, and the value of local parks. These travels, speaking engagements, and promotion efforts took her to membership association meetings in virtually every state, into Canada, and also to Japan as part of a cultural exchange with the Japanese Recreation Association. Her frequent travels to Washington, D.C. and to Capitol Hill bringing these messages on behalf of local parks and recreation departments and the members of the NRPA were of special importance.
Beverly brought to the board its first planning for the future process entitled VISION 2000. This strategic planning process was embraced and implemented by the board under her leadership. It helped to identify the foundational functions of the NRPA thus allowing it to focus its limited resources to the maximum benefit. This effort continues to be a strength of the association today.
During Beverly’s tenure as chair, protocols with four countries (Canada, Japan, Australia, and Great Britain) were developed. These partnerships have facilitated a greater exchange of information and strategies that benefit and enhance parks and recreation programming around the world.
Perhaps the most lasting impact of Beverly’s efforts on behalf of the NRPA is in the development of the Claude Ahrens National Headquarters. When she was elected chair of the association, it was leasing office space. She and then-Executive Director Dean Tice solicited a $1 million matching contribution from the owner of a playground equipment company to begin a fund to build a headquarters for NRPA. Beverly helped lead the effort to raise an additional over $3 million from the membership, friends, and associates to make that dream become a reality. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority was convinced of the value of this effort and offered land adjacent to a developing regional park for this purpose. Groundbreaking was held in early 1995, and the headquarters was opened in June 1997. It is located at 22377 Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn, Virginia.
Beverly’s volunteer efforts were not limited to recreation and parks. In 1998, the two largest hospitals in South Carolina formed an alliance. Beverly was elected as a founding member to serve an 8-year term on the 13-member Palmetto Health Alliance Board. She served as Secretary of the Board, Chairman of the Community Health Committee, and Chairman of the Governance Committee. In 2010, she was elected to the governing board of the Palmetto Baptist Hospital and is currently working to establish an advisory council for the soon-to-be-completed new Baptist Parkridge Hospital, which will be located in the Irmo community. In 2013, she was re-elected to the Alliance board and is serving a second term.
As noted earlier, a strong Christian foundation was developed in Beverly at an early age. She has maintained a affiliation with the Riverland Hills Baptist Church that began in 1972. She has served as a Sunday school teacher, lead greeter in the church foyer, and chairman for three capital stewardship programs raising a total of $8 million. With this funding, the church purchased 50 acres, relocated and built a new sanctuary, education facilities, gymnasium, and ball fields for the youth of the church.
Beverly has also served on the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina State Elementary Schools Committee, the Lexington District Five Schools Education Foundation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Saluda Shoals Park Foundation, the University of South Carolina Associates and as treasurer and fundraiser in elementary, middle, high schools and PTA over the years. She developed the annual “Taste of Columbia” fundraiser at the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion in 1985 and hosted through 1989, a popular community gathering that continues as an annual event at the Mansion today.
Beverly has engaged in many political campaigns for people and causes she felt strongly about. She was a sought-after talent with a reputation for excellence in “grassroots” organizing. She managed her first political campaign (1971) on a volunteer basis for a friend’s daughter (Sherry Shealy) for the South Carolina Senate. Ms. Shealy was 19 years old and at that time became the youngest elected state senator in the country. That successful campaign served to launch an additional career for her, and she became sought after by other candidates. She held various “grassroots” and campaign manager positions in campaigns from 1972 to the present, including the following:
- U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond
- U.S. Senator Jim Demint
- U.S. Congressman Floyd Spence
- U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson
- S.C. Governor Carroll Campbell
- Five South Carolina state senate and six state representative campaigns
- S.C. Governor David Beasley
- S.C. Governor Mark Sanford
- S.C. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer
- S.C. State Treasurer Thomas Ravene
- S.C. Supt. of Education Barbara Nielsen
Beverly enjoyed a varied work career in addition to raising a family and her many volunteer efforts. They include the following:
- Old National Bank, Martinsburg, WV, 1958-1959
- First National Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, Bank Teller, 1959-1962
- Timmerman Private School, developed first after-school program, 1966-1968
- Lexington School District 5 Kindergarten teacher, 1974-1979
- SC Legislature, assistant to chairman of the Republican Caucus, 1984-1988
- St. Andrews Fitness Center, vice president, 1988-1992
- SC Dept. of Education, Intergenerational Director, 1992-2000
- Political consultant, 1972-present
A person with such a significant lifetime of contribution to others is certain to have been previously recognized, and Beverly is no exception. Her previous awards and recognitions include the following:
- SC Order of the Palmetto, by former SC Governor Carroll A. Campbell, 1992
- SC Order of the Silver Crescent by SC Governor Mark Sanford, 2002
- NRPA Volunteer Service Award, 1993
- NRPA Ralph C. Wilson Award, 1996
- NRPA Life Trustee, 1993
- APRS Citizen Award, 1992
- AFRS Citizens Award, 1994
- NRPA Southern Regional Chester Freeman Citizen Award, 1998
- NRPA Southern Regional Citizen Recognition Award, 1992
- NRPA CBM Robert Artz National Award, 1990
- SCRPA Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002
- SCRPA Central District Citizen Award, 1981
- SCRPA Volunteer Award, 1984
- SCRPA Citizen Award, 1995
- SC Governors Forum on Leisure Citizen Award, 1978
- Naming of the Beverly D. Brandes Community Park in Columbia, SC, 2002
- Various South Carolina House and Senate resolutions over the years
In 2006, Beverly remarried, and she and her husband, Carroll Chrisman, are enjoying their retirement on Lake Murray in Lexington, South Carolina. Beverly has lived a life that has enriched the lives of others through her contributions to the betterment of her fellow citizens. Her caring and sensitivities to the needs of her community and church, and her impact and influence on all those who know her have left her loved by many. Once you have the pleasure of working with Beverly, she is certain to leave a lasting impression of caring, concern, and support. Beverly demonstrates a commitment that all things are possible and that working together we can all make a difference in the lives of others.
In recognition of these highlights of her accomplishments, Beverly D. (Brandes) Chrisman is being honored with the Cornelius Amory Pugsley Award.