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Bee Canterbury Lavery


1926 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Bee Canterbury Lavery Obituary
January 20, 1926 - July 13, 2018 Beatrice Canterbury Lavery, 92, Chief of Protocol for the City of Los Angeles for 21 years, died on July 13 at her home in Valley Glen. Lavery was born Beatrice Lorraine Wagner on January 20, 1926, into a Whittier Quaker family. An early divorce and her mother Bernice's subsequent remarriage to Charles Canterbury introduced her iconic middle name. An enthusiasm for international relations and reporting led to her graduation from USC School of Journalism in 1948, as a member of Alpha Delti Pi. Lavery then accepted a job as a publicist for the new television division of NBC, handling publicity for Red Skelton, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante and others. NBC transferred Lavery to New York, where she met and married Frederic Wile Jr., NBC's VP of Programming. NBC transferred both to Los Angeles in 1954. Following Wile's death in 1961, she married Emmet G. Lavery, Jr., an executive at Twentieth Century Fox and later Paramount Television. Simultaneously she switched careers, following an equally passionate interest in fashion. She held the post of Fashion Director of Federated's Bullocks department stores in Southern California, and later at Rose Marie Reid Swimsuits. Stepping away temporarily from her professional life to raise two children, Lavery became a member of the Encino Property Owners Association. There, in 1969, she led the campaign against jets at nearby Van Nuys Airport, and caught the the eye of councilman Tom Bradley who was running for mayor of Los Angeles. Winning the role after his second campaign, Mayor Tom Bradley tapped Lavery to serve as Chief of Protocol, a new position for a city with burgeoning international relationships-"Gateway to the Pacific Rim" was just becoming a buzzword. In that role, Lavery was the primary contact for LA's international diplomatic corps, and the "go-to" person to arrange meetings with Mayor Bradley, city government, key Hollywood players and heads of USA multi-national companies operating in the Los Angeles area. As the first Chief of Protocol for the City, Lavery dedicated herself to promote goodwill between the world and her beloved City of Angels. Events included hosting the Emperor of Japan, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, and the first international visit of Nelson Mandela after his release from jail. In 1982, Lavery joined Mayor Bradley in leading the Los Angeles delegation to Greece to win the 1984 Olympics for the City. Sensitivities towards Chinese relationships resolved during her tenure into several fruitful and sustainable commercial relationships during which time she led four separate delegations to China on the mayor's behalf. Lavery received five foreign decorations, including medals from Queen Beatrix for the Order of Orange Nassau and King Juan Carlos of Spain for the Lazo de Dama of the Expressed Order of Isabel the Catholic. Following Bradley's departure from city government, Lavery managed international relations for the US Department of State in its Los Angeles office for two years before retiring. Lavery is survived by daughter Tracy Elizabeth Lavery, and son Geoffrey Wile Lavery.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from July 25 to July 29, 2018
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