Bernice/Bea was born in Philadelphia at the start of the Depression in late 1929. Raised by her loving mother and her maternal grandfather in a Polish-American immigrant home, Bea learned early to be resilient and adaptable, taking care of her 6 younger siblings and her elders.
She met the love of her life, James Shawhan, a young navy sailor from Illinois in 1944, and they married and moved to post-war Wiesbaden Germany in 1948 to start their new life together. They shared a sense of youthful enthusiasm and adventure for travel and learning new cultures, as they moved their growing family from Germany to Alabama, Florida, DC, Wales and Tripoli Libya, as well as Naha Okinawa, among other places. All along the way, Bea and Jim educated and nurtured their 6 kids with a sense of adventure and anticipation for life.
After retiring from the USAF in 1968, Jim and Bea moved to Hawaii with their kids to establish a new life and permanent roots. Both went back to school, gaining their bachelor degrees, and Bea went on to get her UHM advanced degrees in political science and public health. She was impassioned by her advocacy work in reducing/ remove nuclear weapons, homelessness, mental health reform, and other social justice issues.
Later in life as a young widow, Bea continued to travel to connect to her Polish roots, working in mental health, enjoyed reading, and stayed connected to her adult children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She always remained very aware of and opinionated about world events, politics and other current events. She remained to the end, strong, resilient and complex in her thoughts and ideas. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a thoughtful, caring and responsive person.
Bea is survived by 6 children scattered across the US Northwest, Hawaii and France, 10 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. No services are being held, at her request.
Arrangements Provided By: Oahu Mortuary
Notice #: 0001299644-01