In Memory: Jayne (Lair) BecVar, 1923-2020

November 20, 2020

Jayne BecVar, right, chats with student scholarship recipients at the 2018 Heritage Society Brunch.

Jayne Virginia Lair BecVar, who, along with her husband, Arthur BecVar, was a founding patron of Bellarmine University, passed away on November 14, 2020, in Louisville. 

The BecVars each served on various Bellarmine advisory boards, and Jayne BecVar served as president of the Bellarmine University Women’s Council during the 1970s. They established the Arthur and Jayne BecVar Endowed Nursing Scholarship after Arthur BecVar had an illness that required hospitalization.

“He called me from the hospital,” recalled Joan Riggert, director of Planned Giving and Stewardship. “He had such great and compassionate care from nurses who identified themselves as Bellarmine graduates that he wanted to establish something to continue that training.”
“Mrs. BecVar's generosity with the endowed scholarship has supported many deserving students in becoming nurses over the years,” said Dr. Nancy York, dean of the Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences. “We are grateful for her support and recognition of the importance of the nursing profession.”

"Jayne understood Bellarmine’s special qualities, specifically its ability to nurture students on a very personal level. She wanted to help retain and grow that philosophy, so she created this residency, offering a singular artistic opportunity."

Arthur BecVar was a U.S. industrial designer who worked with John Gordon Rideout and Revere Copper and Brass before joining General Electric (GE) in Bridgeport, Conn. As director of design, he changed the name of the department of 50 designers and modelmakers from “Appearance Design” to “Industrial Design.” In 1950, he relocated to Louisville and became GE’s manager of industrial design for major appliances, eventually leading a new Applied Research and Design Center from 1971 until his retirement in 1976. He was named president of the American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID) in 1955 and remained active in ASID and its successor, IDSA, until his retirement.

When Arthur died in 2002, Jayne honored his memory with the Arthur BecVar Endowed Artist in Residence at Bellarmine, a fellowship in the Lansing School for juniors or seniors majoring in English, Art, Communications, Music, Theater, or Design, Arts & Technology (DAT). The selected students immerse themselves in the Lansing School and produce a creative piece of work about one or more aspects of that experience. 
Jordan Kelch ’08/’20 MAC, who majored in English and minored in Theatre, wrote a one-act play, Break/Room, during his BecVar residency. 
“I’m so sorry to hear about Jayne’s passing,” said Kelch, communications administrator for the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office and the Board of Elections. “I was lucky enough to meet her two different times. On Graduation Day in 2008, she gifted me a beautiful leather journal. I used it religiously for about 10 years, outlining story ideas and building portions of a full-length play until the journal finally filled up. It’s now in safe keeping.
“I think Jayne, and the residency itself, offered an artistic platform for driven students who wanted to create something meaningful, something personal, especially in the face of forthcoming graduation,” he continued. “The day I presented my play ranks with my best undergrad moments. Jayne understood Bellarmine’s special qualities, specifically its ability to nurture students on a very personal level. She wanted to help retain and grow that philosophy, so she created this residency, offering a singular artistic opportunity. It began as a legacy marker for her late husband, Arthur BecVar, but what no one could foresee is that it would become an alternate legacy marker for every student lucky enough to receive the residency.”
Donors of endowed scholarships are recognized annually at the Heritage Society Brunch, where they can meet the students who benefit from their generosity. “At the last brunch she attended [pictured above], she had two tables of students!” Riggert said. “As each of them came to her to give her a letter of thanks, she had kind words for each of them.” 
In addition to her service to Bellarmine, Jayne BecVar also recorded narration for hundreds of books in more than 35 years of volunteering for Louisville Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
A Memorial Mass will be held later at St. Francis of Rome Church. Donations in Jayne BecVar’s memory may be made to The Arthur and Jayne BecVar Endowed Scholarship for Nursing at Bellarmine University, Nazareth Home or The Nature Conservancy.
BecVar Artist in Residence applications open
The BecVar Artist in Residence program is accepting applications for the 2021-22 academic year through Dec. 9, 2020. This program is meant to allow creative students the ability to examine, explore, and document health, healthcare, and the lives of health professionals through the creative arts. Because of the generous endowment from the BecVar family, Bellarmine can host three Artists in Residence during this cycle. Students should be juniors or seniors during the 2021-22 academic year and have a major of English, Art, Communications, Music, Theater, or DAT. Selected students will receive a fellowship of $1,300/semester during the year and an additional $500 for materials and installation (if necessary). 

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