Beverly Sher Black Barrett Appel. I was fifteen years old. She was more than a year older. That is a big different at that age. Of all the early milestones in my life, I think meeting Bev is the most significant. Vaguely, before meeting Bev, I remember my love of sports in O’Fallon: baseball, football, basketball, water skiing, and golf with my father. My life in O’Fallon was reading and sports. My parents fighting and divorce is blocked out. Before O’Fallon, was McLean, from 1st to 5th grade, I remember the neighbourhood, Frosty my dog, my sister and her boyfriend, square dancing, basketball and swimming at Ft. Belvoir, being snowed in with the family, the marital issues of my parents. Before McLean there was California, Hawaii, and Japan– but I remember essentially nothing.
I moved from O’Fallon Illinois back to McLean Virginia in the summer of 1966. By the next summer, my mother got the idea to send me to Camp Zarahemla, in Clintwood, SW Virginia. This is a Camp in the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful corner of SW Virginia. The photos show the lodge, for meals and meetings, and the cabins and lake. At Zarahemla Bev Sher and I met. For the the next 3 years, we were inseparable.
So somewhere during the summer of 1967, circumstances led to my meeting Bev Sher. It didn’t take long for us to become inseparable. The first kiss took place at this camp. I remember the first kiss. It happened on a path somewhere in the woods, and we were just walking and talking, and somehow we approached each other, and it just happened. After the camp session was over, and we returned to Northern Virginia, we bonded and we were very happy together. Never anything approaching a disagreement. An intensity and emotion typical of a first love, but unusually so, as if both of us were hungry in a world with no other food fit to eat, and we suddenly could eat our fill of our love and togetherness and nobody could stop us— until the pressure was too great. Bev’s parents finally separated us by the Atlantic Ocean and threats.
When I met Bev I lived in a subjective world. I really had no interest in objective reasoning, and did not apply myself at any subject in school. Bev, on the other hand, lived in an alternative reality with a persona that only she could hear. This persona would advise her and she respected and generally followed his guidance. She told me about this persona from time to time, but mostly indirectly as she didn’t like to talk too much about “him.” She did tell me that I was approved or liked by him, and therefore trusted. I had no trouble accepting this invisible (to me) persona.
The picture on the right was her senior year, probably how she looked when we met. Below, is more revealing of her character. She looks a bit crazy here, but very confident and self-aware
The voice that Bev heard did not make me think she was unbalanced in any way. In fact, she opened up to me my future development, which combines subjectivity and objectivity in a united framework. She selected books for me to read, and our conversations were meaningful and not day-to-day drivel. When she was at Indiana University, we wrote dozens of letters which I lost, but which opened me to the written word. We were truly madly in love.
The intellectual part of our relationship was dominated by Bev. I was not threatened by her intellect; in fact, it attracted me. It was only years later, after I became Baha’i and when through an intense learning period, did I realize that I had a great deal of intellectual capacity if I wanted to use it. When I was with Bev, I was content to let her lead me to places I had never been before.
I can’t really say why she loved me. There were many “firsts” and experiences in our relationship. There were no boundaries between us. Our world was created out of the energy of our togetherness, first emotionally then physically and sexually. Neither of us cared much about what other people thought or did. We could freely roam our private world without self-doubts or any need to conform. If Bev was insane, I was insane too. I think the picture below shows a lot. Beverly’s eyes are clear, challenging, and her smile says: “He is mine.” Years later, I looked up Bev in Arizona, and we talked about our love, and I asked for some pictures. She only had one of me. On the back she had written: “I love Gary Reusche”. My eyes are bored and soft in the picture. We are leaning towards each other, and Bev has her hand in my lap. We were always connected, wherever we went.
In 1967-69, there was a revolution taking place in the US, and most assuredly, we were part of the revolution that changed the American habits between men and women; and the sexual revolution. There was complete equality between us. Anything else was unthinkable. I loved to learn from Beverly, and was never threatened by her capacities. Sexually were were both completely inexperienced, innocent, and uninhibited. The first time I had an organism, I didn’t know what it was. Bev knew, and wasn’t too excited about it. And we ended up soon thereafter in a doctor’s office, and she got a prescription for the pill in the early days of this kind of birth control. (n.b., Her father, an MD, decided to do a blood test without her permission to see if she was on the pill. So he found out and was angry. Bev hid this from me; I only learned about it years later.)
Intro to Judism
Love making everywhere, her house, my house, cars, friends apartments, woods
The relationship with Beverly lasted until the summer of my graduation from High School. Her family sent her to Sweden for the summer to get her away from me. Not being Jewish, and for other reasons, I was not good material for Bev. I learned later than the 2 years we were “together” she was constantly harassed by her parents for seeing me. About 10 years after this summer exile, Beverly mother looked up “Reusche” in the phone book, and called Leah. She wanted me to get back together with Beverly. Apparently, I wasn’t so bad after all. I like to believe that her mother called because she knew that Beverly was happy when she was with me, and she wanted to see her daughter happy again. Bev would never admit to anyone, that she was not happy, but I am sure this is what motivated her mother to call me.
Through the years, Bev and I met. I regularly looked her up. I have memories of skinny dipping with her a couple of years in the early 70s I guess, in Lake Bancroft. After hearing she was at UVa when I was doing summer work nearby for Va Tech, I decided to go and see what became of her. I met her first husband, David Black. They lived in a basement apartment near the campus. I knocked on the door, David answered: “Yes?” “Is this the apartment of Beverly?, I asked. “And who are you?”, he replies. So, he lets me in the flat, and we are sitting together in the living room. He lights up a pipe, and I say: “I knew Beverly in High School.” He takes a few drawls on the pipe, leans back, and says: “Yes, ummm, I hear you were lovers.”
I gave Bev a Bahá’í book at this meeting, “The Reality of Man.” Her David Black, turns out, was a bit weird, and had peculiar ideas about sex and life. Later I discussed with Bev the meeting with David.
There were other meetings. Once I was coming back from Africa, and Bev was returning from France. We both spoke French, so we had a French speaking dinner. We were never normal.
We met in Berkley, she was hard to find. I was in San Francisco staying with family. We met in New Mexico. She introduced me to her cowboy lover, and indicated she was on the way out of another marriage. During this meeting, she went into her room, and came back with my picture, with “I love Gary Reusche” written on the back of it. Seems she carried it around.
After the death of her last husband, whose name escapes me now, I invited her to Ukraine and Guta. A couple of years later, we met in Washington DC, and she gave me her favourite saddle, which is now my favorite saddle.
Then we met in India. Beverly over the years turned to spiritual matters, no less than I turned to spiritual matters. She invited me to stay in the inner circle of Swami Paramanand Giri Ji, who was special to her. I’ll write a lot more about this one day, but I can say that Swami Paramanand Giri Ji accepted me immediately into his circle, even touching me physically which caused Beverly and others to practically gasp out loud. Swami Paramanand Giri Ji sent Beverly and me to a ceremony, often done by couples.
We talked before her death about meeting again and hiking. Didn’t expect her to leave so soon. She died 19 October 2018. I miss her and pray for her, and hope she is praying for me.
Our favorite song was always “Happy Together” and I stayed in touch with Beverly off and on until her death. This the last picture of her just before her death. Thank God she was able to stay with someone who took care of her. She died of cancer, she had a serious car wreck before her death, and in general, my intuition says she was ready to leave and practically willed it.
She died with Judith Whaley who wrote after her death: “Last winter and spring, Beverly was increasingly distressed, losing weight and in pain when I spoke to her on the phone. It seemed mysterious to me, that even though she was hospitalized in CT, no source of her symptoms was found. Finally, In July, I invited her to come stay with me to stabilize her living situation and to find a doctor and treatment here. She totaled her car after falling asleep at the wheel near Roanoke, driving to my house, so I went and picked her up.We were optimistic at that point in time, she was eating more although she only weighed about 80 Lbs. She was diagnosed with a type of hookworms only found in very poor, rural areas and we thought that might have been the problem, given her time in India last Nov. The pain and weight loss persisted, however, and tests revealed cervical cancer. Beverly was quite shocked by this diagnosis; she thought her intuition and medical visits would have informed her about it. Initially, the doctors thought it was Stage 3 and she was going to pursue chemo and radiation. Unfortunately, with further symptoms and tests, it was clear that the cancer had metastasized to other organs. Given that, Beverly decided to get hospice care in my home about three weeks prior to her death.So that is how things went from a physical point of view. Emotionally, Beverly felt grateful to be surrounded by a small group of friends who cared about her. Even though she worried about being a “burden”, she was able to take in the love and support. I think she was able to let go of some of her resentments toward family members who had repeatedly disappointed her. She continued to study the Vedic scriptures to stop identifying with the body/emotions/ intellect. She felt that it was better to leave her deteriorating body , given that there were so many things she could no longer enjoy. She was not verbal a couple of days prior to her transition, so I played Hindi mantras repeatedly to ease her transition home.
Beverly Appel passed away Friday, October 19, 2018, among friends in Lawrenceburg, TN.
Her most recent permanent address had been in Roanoke, VA. She was born August 18, 1950 in St. Louis, MO and also grew up in Falls Church, VA.
She held degrees in Comparative Religion, Early Childhood Development and Educational Psychology from the University of Indiana and the University of Virginia. It was after completing her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at MTSU that she came to work at the Lawrence County Mental Health Center for several years in the mid-nineties. Her vocation was primarily in the fields of education and health but toward the end of her life she traveled by taking long-term house-sitting jobs.
She had a rich life, living in a variety of states and foreign countries. She studied Hinduism in both France and India. Her other interests included photography, film, horse training and caring for shelter dogs.
She was preceded in death by her father, Charles Sher, and her mother and step-father, Ernie and Roslyn Rafey. Her beloved husband, Kenneth Appel, passed in 2009 and she had no children.