Remembering Beatrice Cummings Mayer, 1921 – 2018

Mrs. Mayer smiles during a gala at The Chicago Lighthouse

 “With privilege comes responsibility.”

The Chicago Lighthouse mourns the loss of Beatrice C. Mayer, Board Member, activist, philanthropist, and longtime friend of our Seniors Program. Throughout her life, Mrs. Mayer was a leader in supporting many causes close to her heart, including the arts, education, and independence for people with disabilities and vision impairments.

Mrs. Mayer first learned about the possibilities for people living with vision loss through her Aunt Francis, who was blind. “I saw what a complete life she built for herself because she had the means. It struck me very deeply that you can have a full life with certain limitations…and when I say full I’m talking about music, theatre, concerts, she did all of that.” This helped drive her advocacy for accessibility in the arts so that everyone could find joy and fulfillment through enriching cultural experiences.

Mrs. Mayer took a particular interest in helping Seniors, as she recognized that this population is most affected by vision loss, and many who are blind or visually impaired are living in isolation with limited access to resources. Her desire to help this population lead her to The Chicago Lighthouse, and then specifically the Seniors Program. She started by buying iPads for participants to use in the program, and then continued to support the program for many years.

Her passion for this program culminated in the establishment of the Beatrice Cummings Mayer Senior Center in 2017, made possible through her generous lead gift. Mrs. Mayer worked with her son, Rob, to ensure that The Center would be modern and accessible to older adults with disabilities. We were able to cut the ribbon for The Center with Mrs. Mayer and her family last December. Her lead gift prompted many others to give as well, including the Lions, who funded a gallery in The Lighthouse, and Board Member Joel and his wife Roberta Kaplan, who established The Roberta Kaplan Rose Garden, which is filled with fragrant flowers that our Seniors can enjoy.

Mrs. Mayer and Laurine O'Donnel holding up a thank you card from the Seniors of The Chicago Lighthouse.

Laurine O’Donnell, Director of our Seniors Program, presents Mrs. Mayer with a thank you card during the ribbon cutting for The Beatrice Cummings Mayer Senior Center.

Today, The Center is a warm, lively place where older adults with vision loss and other disabilities take classes, share meals, exercise, make new friends, and have fun with one another. Mrs. Mayer found great joy in helping Seniors be connected with others and learn new skills that helped them lead independent lives.

Mrs. Mayer smiles next to Jen Miller during a gala for The Chicago Lighthouse

Three Seniors share a light-hearted moment as they learn how to use an iPad by an instructorParticipants of our Seniors Program enjoy their time in The Beatrice Cummings Mayer Senior Center.

Mrs. Mayer will be deeply missed by The Chicago Lighthouse, and her legacy will remain honored by the many lives she has touched through her generosity and kind spirit.

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