Beverly Audine Carlson, born to Oscar and Marie Carlson on April 16, 1931, passed into her next life on April 25, 2023 at the age of 92.

Bev lived an extraordinary and rich life, and in doing so, enriched the lives many people on her journey. Her early years were spent in Prunedale, California, where she won honorable mention in the “Prize Baby Show” in Santa Cruz in April 1932, and graduated from Prunedale Elementary and High Schools. In high school she began developing her musical skills, playing violin in the orchestra. After graduating in 1948, she continued her education at Stanford University. She graduated at Stanford’s 62nd commencement with 2,262 other students, and 10,000 people in attendance.

At Stanford she continued making music, but of even greater importance, she developed the skills and knowledge that made her what most students from Ferndale High School call, “the best teacher I ever had.” “Miss Carlson” began teaching when she was 21 years old and taught at Ferndale High for thirty years: U.S. History, Civics, French, Chorus; and the girls’ softball coach. Decades later, one could still find former students arguing with her about a grade they received on a test, and so it may amuse those students to know that she received “C’s” in History in high school.

Perhaps her most visible teaching accomplishment was leading the class of 1977’s U.S. History course in learning history first-hand by researching and writing a comprehensive history of Ferndale, “Where the Ferns Grew Tall”. The excellence of the work turned out by those fortunate students displays in a tangible way the power of her teaching. She was a formidable teacher, yet many students became friends with Miss Carlson over the years and began to call her “Bev” as they enjoyed a glass of white Zin, golf trips, singing, and traveling together.

Bev made music in one way or another over her long lifetime. She sang with the Ferndale Community Choir, conducting one or two selections at concerts, of which her favorite was always, “No Man is an Island.” She sang with the Chameleon Singers, caroled on Christmas Day, and was an awesome Halloween Caroler (one year the back of her costume carried the sign “Carlson for School Board”). In later years she joined Deb Woods in singing at assisted living and care facilities. During her last week, members of the Ferndale Community Choir crowded into her home one evening to sing. Choir Gals and friends came to sit – and sing – with her right up to the very end. Bev’s last days were filled with music and love.

On retirement, Bev began painting houses. Her first partner was Mariette Dwight, followed by Missy and Annie, and then an entire female crew. At 75 years old Bev decided she needed a contractor’s license in her own right, so she studied under Mariette, and passed the test first try in a room full of young guys and no other women. Bev famously climbed ladders and walked around with paint on her hands and face into her 80s.

Bev was baptized in the United Presbyterian Church, confirmed in the Episcopal Church, and finally settled on being a Lutheran, devoting her time, energy, good sense, and humor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, as leader and lay reader.

There are many people and organizations that benefitted from Bev’s experience and calm demeanor. She served on the Ferndale High School Board for twelve years, assisted with the launch of the Senior Resource Center, and gave behind-the-scenes guidance to any number of organizations and individuals. She was a woman whose friendship crossed any perceived boundaries of age, political persuasion, or world view, and she was the epitome of civil discourse.

Over her 93 years Bev made lifelong and storied friendships, including Mabel Lowry (where Bev would drive her motorcycle right inside Mabel’s cabin in Bear River); the Choir Gals (who gathered after rehearsals to talk about the tenors); her fellow teachers and friends (including Coach and Deanna Carlson); her partners in painting (the fabulous Chicks on Sticks and later Don Sanborn); her walking companion, Cheryl Etter (continuing her ongoing argument for a better grade on a French test); her many golfing friends (including Don Becker, one of the traveling golfing foursome); and Deb Woods, her great friend, who with her husband, Steve, was Bev’s caregiver over during her last years.

There is so much more that can be said about Bev – her meticulous prize-winning crewel embroidery work, her sense of humor and laughter, her holes-in-one, her graceful hands (and sometimes fists) as she directed music, her Pendleton jackets, her frightening Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy, her love for her animals, her artichoke dip, her fateful move from alto to tenor, her faith, her civic and civil convictions, her quiet yet fierce defense of friends, her intelligence.

Beverly is survived by her cousins, Vee (Donald) Thomas, and Vee’s sons Larry (Mary Claire) and Chris (Mary Kay). She is also survived by sons of her cousin Hans “Slip” (Gwen) Slibsager, Mike (Wendy), David (Janet), Keith, and Dennis (Lorna). She was preceded in death by Scott Thomas, Slip Slibsager, and Scott Slibsager. She leaves behind a host of friends and students whose lives she touched, and in whom she lives on in memory.

The community is invited to celebrate Bev’s life well lived on Saturday, July 15. There will be a service at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (425 Shaw Avenue in Ferndale) at 11 a.m., followed by a further celebration at the Ferndale Community Center (100 Berding Street) at 12:30 p.m. There will be food, memories (please bring your stories to share), and, of course, music.

No man is an island; no man stands alone. Each man’s joy is joy to me; each man’s grief is my own. We need one another, so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Bev Carlson’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email