The following story was written by Regional Hospice and Palliative Care Volunteer Gina Cassetta, who interviewed hospice patient Beverly Dieringer about her life:
The first thing I realized as I sat with Beverly “Bev” Dierigner is that she has an unapologetic confidence and self-esteem, both of which enabled her to succeed at a myriad of endeavors.
Beverly is extremely creative. In high school, she won an award for her painting titled, “Clean Up Time Again,” made for a contest theme of saving the planet. Her home is graced by many examples of her fine art talent: a lovely watercolor of a plant, a sketch of their cat Daisy, and another of Orient Point, New York.
Beverly attended the Chicago Art Institute where she met her husband Ernie. She loved to sew, and when they married, she wore a wedding dress and a beaded crown that she had made herself. When they had a family, she sewed the children’s clothing. In later years, she made the bridesmaid gowns for her daughter’s wedding. It was the 1960’s, and the family lived in New York City and had many parties with their artistic friends.
Due to necessity, Beverly made their furniture using hand tools. She was self-taught and made beautiful, modern upholstered sofas, bunk beds with pull-out drawers, and even the baby buggy. Desiring to share her skills with other women, she wrote a book, entitled Carpentry for Women, complete with hand-drawn illustrations. Simon & Schuster wanted to publish it using the name, Sex and the Screwdriver, but Beverly refused the name change and the book was never published.
As the family grew, the Dieringers moved to a 12th floor apartment on Riverside Drive where they bred and raised Weimaraner dogs. One puppy was bought by artist William Wegman and has been featured in his Sesame Street videos of anthropomorphic dogs.
Beverly was quite a fearless figure skater from a young age. The entire family would go skating at Rockefeller Center most weekends in Winter. She also was adept at roller-skating and singing, and was asked three times to join a band, but with three young kids, she felt she couldn’t accept the offer.
Crafting was a favorite pastime for Beverly, and kids loved to come over to make candles, tie-dye, or macramé with her. Ernie would cook for everyone. Beverly taught herself to make paper beads and in 1977 she wrote The Paper Bead Book with Marjorie Morton.
When Beverly and Ernie moved the family to Connecticut in 1970, they began collecting and using White Ironstone China. It was the strong, practical, everyday china that people used during Victorian times, and there are over 100 designs. It was made in Staffordshire, England, for export to the New World, so its timeless design was made to last the long voyage & years of use. There was no official way to categorize the china; Beverly saw a need. The couple formed a club called WICA—White Ironstone China Association, to create a venue for finding pieces and then began to categorize them by the factory stamp. There had been no information about White Ironstone China on the internet until they uploaded their research! In 2001 the couple published a book, The White Ironstone China Plate Identification Guide 1840-1890.
Beverly & Ernie were honored for their work categorizing White Ironstone China in May 2009, winning the Joan Wetherbee Honors Award for “exemplary research”, and she and her husband appeared on the Martha Stewart show in 2011 to talk about White Ironstone China. Apparently, Martha Stewart also likes it and was impressed by their collection.
The Dieringer’s sense of humor was exemplified by their bathroom décor … The wall above their “throne” was adorned with many different lids from White Ironstone China Chamber pots! It was not uncommon for guests to arrive with a large package in hand, heading straight for the bathroom with high hopes of finding “their” matching lid on the Dieiringer’s wall!
The WICA members would meet annually and meals were served using the White Ironstone China soup tureens on the buffet line. Beverly published the 10th Anniversary Cookbook Celebrating Soup, Stew, and Sauce Tureens, which featured these recipes.
In the early 1970’s Beverly opened Counterpoint, a needlepoint shop in Bethel’s historic Opera House. She gave classes and sold supplies for many years, and still has the framed dollar bill from her first sale. Many employees became her lifelong friends.
When Family Circle Magazine held a rug contest, Beverly got to work, creating a beautiful 8’x10’ needlepoint rug. She had no doubt she would win. The entire family helped to get it finished on time and they drove it to Manhattan to meet the deadline. There were over 60,000 entries; she won 3rd place, earning an article in Family Circle magazine! Her rug was also featured on the cover of Embroidery News in 1980.
Bev utilized her creativity primarily for decorative art. She approached projects with confidence, logic and determination, and the useful, timeless items she made: clothing, books, furniture, a rug, and even the type of china she collected, all reflect that. The qualities that she adored about White Ironstone China could also be said of her: she is strong, practical, and has a classical elegance.
Written by Regional Hospice and Palliative Care volunteer Gina Cassetta