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In Remembrance - Beth Hartley Chapman (1922-2020)

The Friends of Villa Terrace have lost another guiding light in 2020:

When the Friends of Villa Terrace were founded in Oct. 1990 Mrs. William P. Chapman (Beth) was one of the first 7 directors. In 1995 she became president and served for 5 years until 1999, a time during which the Friends staged 6 decorative arts exhibitions at the Villa annually.

But well before that time Beth was involved with Villa Terrace. While she was president of the Art Museum Garden Club (1965-67) the club restored the Villa’s courtyard plantings and purchased the statue of Hermes which graces the bronze pedestal fountain in the center of the courtyard today. All for the formal opening of the Villa to the public under the auspices of the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1967. Small wonder that Beth cared greatly for the state of that  1st-2nd century Roman torso and the well-being of the boxwood hedges in the courtyard.

Our paths crossed for the first time in 1984 when I as a newly arrived immigrant attending a course on native landscaping at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Beth did a lot of hand holding and encouraged me to go back to university to study landscape architecture - at UW-Madison - a route she would have loved to take herself. She was keen to spread beauty and ecological health in her surroundings to further the quality of life in the community.

The first time I met Beth at the Villa was in the early 2000’s. She was dutifully ironing all the red ribbons that had been used over the years to decorate the Villa for Christmas – on an ironing board brought from her home. She gave me a glowing tour of the main rooms and the terrace overlooking the recently renovated garden. This was her pride and joy. She was overflowing with information on the various hydrangeas in the gardens and the containers. There was no hiding her upbeat personality.

From then on we met regularly at fundraising events, concerts and lectures at the Villa  - always  immaculately turned out. However, she cared most for the outdoors, where she helped at most regular volunteer days, fighting thistles on the slope and reminiscing the glittering lights that must have lit up the water stairs at some point. 

I will forever miss this classy lady with a passion for Villa Terrace and encourage all the Friends of Villa Terrace to hold her memory dear. 

Margarete Harvey, ASLA
Past President  FOVT, 2010-11


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