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Maureen Beebe (2019), inspired children's book "Misty of Chincoteague"

Image via Facebook/Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Co.

Her pony, Misty, was the focus of Marguerite Henry's 1947 classic novel

Maureen Beebe Hursh was one of the inspirations for the classic children's novel “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry. Published in 1947, the book told a fictionalized version of the true story of Beebe's life on the island of Chincoteague, off the coast of Virginia, where her family tamed wild ponies from nearby Assateague Island. The first of several books by Henry about the Chincoteague ponies, “Misty of Chincoteague” told an invented story of Beebe and her brother, Paul, buying and taming Misty as a foal along with her mother, Phantom. The Chincoteague tradition of the Pony Swim from Assateague to Chincoteague, along with the subsequent Pony Auction, formed the backbone of the book's drama.

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Died: May 25, 2019 (Who else died on May 25?)

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Beebe in real life: Beebe, a young girl when the book was written, spent much of her life living on Chincoteague, though she wintered in Florida with family. She enjoyed visiting the ponies at Beebe's Ranch as an adult and was often seen riding her bicycle around the island. Her brother Paul, also a character in the book, died in a car accident in 1959 at 21. She is survived by her daughters, Zebie and Reenie. In her memory, a scholarship fund is being established for local high schoolers; donations can be made to the Maureen Beebe Hursh Scholarship Fund c/o PNC Bank, 6402 Maddox Blvd, Chincoteague VA 23336.

What people said about her: “A true Chincoteague icon with a huge heart and huge personality. She was so much more than the little girl depicted in the MISTY book. She was a legend, a testament to good works, a heartfelt soul who cherished her independence and her family. This island will never be the same and we as individuals and company as a whole have been forever blessed by her gift of love and friendship that she bestowed to each of us. Ride high Maureen, we will love you forever!” —Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company

“You would pass her on the street and didn't even know it was her. So for those of us that knew her personally, what a treat it was to run into her at the Dollar General or the grocery store and get a big hug and everything.” —Denise Bowden, Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company Public Information Officer

“She was a fixture of Chincoteague. Everybody knew her and she knew everybody.” — Chincoteague resident Roe Terry

Full obituary: Delmarva Now

Related lives:

  • George Brady (1928–2019), Holocaust survivor immortalized in “Hana's Suitcase”
  • E.L. Konigsburg (1930–2013), author of “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”
  • Maurice Sendak (1928–2012), wrote children's classics including “Where the Wild Things Are”